On October 1, 2023, the regulations for implementing the provisions on the administration of enterprise name registration issued by the China Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) came into force. The Rules apply to enterprises that need to register activities in China, including all domestic entities and branches of foreign companies.
As a fundamental principle, the Rules establish that the declaration and use of company names respect the principle of honesty and credibility, respect pre-existing legitimate rights and avoid confusion. Furthermore, the Rules regulate the characteristics that company names must respect:
Company names must not include terms related to national strategies or policies, misleading terms such as “national”, “top”/”best” etc., terms that are confusingly similar to those of competitors or suggest those of non-profit organizations, etc.
If a company believes that another business name infringes on its legitimate rights and interests regarding its business name, it can file a lawsuit in the People’s Court or turn to the SAMR, whose proceedings on average last about 4 months.
The company name is the intangible asset of a company and conveys its corporate value, reputation and brand image. Business name regulations provide rights holders with a new weapon that may be more cost-effective to combat infringing business names that gratuitously exploit their previously legitimate business name rights. In any case, it is recommended that company names are also registered as trademarks, not only in China.