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Q_iconAre we allowed to use a company name (trade name) that is the same as or similar to another company name established in Japan?
A_iconUsing the business name and the same trade name registered under another business and, when the location of the office is the same as the location of another corporation is not allowed.
★ Explanation ★

According to Article 27 of the Commercial Registration Act, registration of identical trade name at the same location is prohibited.

(Prohibition on Registration of Identical Trade Name at the Same Location)

Commercial Registration Act

Article 27  With regard to the registration of a trade name, if a trade name for which a registration was filed is identical to that already registered by any other party and if the location of the applicant’s business office (in the case of a company, its head office; hereinafter the same shall apply in this Article) is the same as the location of such other party’s business office for which the trade name has been registered, such registration shall not be made.

Source: Japanese Law Translation Database System http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=1863&vm=04&re=02&new=1

“Identical Trade Name” refers to when the entirety of the trade name being registered, including the part of the name that indicates the type of company (e.g. “Corporation”), is exactly the same as the already registered trade name. For example, like kanji and hiragana (including Romanized characters and katakana), even if the pronunciation are the same, if the trade name is expressed differently in text, they are not considered identical trade names.

<Case ①>

Are “株式会社ABC” (Kabushiki-kaisha ABC) and “株式会社エービーシー” (Kabushiki-kaisha エービーシー [read as “ABC”]) considered identical trade names?

⇒ No, they are not considered identical trade names.

<Case ②>

Are “株式会社ABC” (Kabushiki-kaisha ABC) and “ABC株式会社” (ABC Kabushiki-kaisha) considered identical trade names?

⇒ No, they are not considered identical trade names.

<Case ③>

Are “株式会社ABC” (Kabushiki-kaisha ABC) and “合同会社ABC” (Goudou-kaisha ABC) considered identical trade names?

⇒ No, they are not considered identical trade names.

Since the purpose of Article 27 of the Commercial Registration Act is to avoid public confusion caused by misunderstanding the identity of the company, as long as the company exists, even if the registered party is currently undergoing a liquidation process, the article still applies. However, once liquidation is completed and a certificate of all removed matters has been made, the article no longer applies to the first registered party.

<Case ④>

Are we allowed to register an identical trade name if the registered party is already going through the liquidation process?

⇒ Registration is not allowed.

<Case ⑤>

Are we allowed to register an identical trade name if the registered party has already completed liquidation and provided their certification of all removed matters?

⇒ Registration is allowed.

Next, an “identical head office” refers to a location that is already registered as the head office of another party, where no distinction is made between the location being registered and the location already registered. For example, if the other party has registered “Building X” as their head office location, another party with an identical trade name cannot register their address in “Building X, Floor N”.

<Case ⑥>

Are the following considered identical head offices?

1番1号 (1-ban 1-go)

1番地1 (1-banchi 1)

1番地の1 (1 1-banchi)

1―1

⇒ They are considered identical head offices.

There are no rules that require a specific style of address to be used.

<Case ⑦>

If an existing head office of a different company registered the address “1-chome 1-ban 1-go”, are we allowed to register under the same trade name with our company address being “1-chome 1-ban 1-go Room 101”?

⇒ They are considered identical head offices and identical trade names, making registration prohibited.