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Saskia van der Meijden-Bullens

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Auteur

Saskia van der Meijden-Bullens

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5 avril 2024

New tool available for Dutch entrepreneurs: Name checker

  • Quick read

Recently, the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (“BOIP”) together with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (“DCC”) introduced Name checker, a new tool to assist startups in the Netherlands in choosing their company name. Of course, Name checker could also be used as a first step in clearance projects for example in rebranding projects or when choosing a new trade mark. 

The difference between company names and trade marks

There is an important difference between a company name and a trade mark. Actively using a company name automatically gives protection under Dutch law, without the need to register. However, that protection is only valid in the region where the business is active. Beyond that region, it can be possible for others to use your company name. If you want to have a more exclusive right to a name for certain goods and services, you must apply to register your name as a trade mark. 

The interdependence between company names and trade marks

The owner of a company name or trade mark that is identical or similar to the name you intend to use as a company name or apply to register as a trade mark may act against you when there is a likelihood of confusion among the relevant part of the public. It is therefore important to have both the trade mark and company register searched. 

How it works

Name checker allows you to search easily for a name in both the BOIP Trademarks Register and the Chamber of Commerce Companies Register at the same time. 

With the below tips, you will complete your search in the most effective way:

  • Search for parts of your name. For instance, if your name is ‘Taylor Wessing’, search for ‘Taylor’ or ‘Wessing’. Search preferably using the most unique part of your name.
  • The tool is not able to search phonetically. A company name or trade mark that is phonetically similar to the name you have chosen can cause confusion on the relevant part of the public. Thus, make sure to not only search for ‘Taylor’, but also for ‘Tailor’ or ‘Teelor’.

Possible risks

Although Name checker could serve as a quick availability check, please keep the following in mind:

  • Name checker only shows company names and trade marks in which the exact search word appears, or which are themselves an exact match with the search word. Similar trade marks and trade names might therefore be missed even though such similar marks and names can pose legal risks.
  • The BOIP Trademarks Register and the Chamber of Commerce Companies Register are evolving every day. Therefore, the results must be assessed up to the date of the search.
  • Name checker is a simple tool. It is not to be compared with the in-depth clearance and advice that is offered by Taylor Wessing. 
  • Name checker does not advise on the possibility that the BOIP may refuse the intended name as a trade mark. 
  • Company names are protected through use, and not through registration. Thus, if no results are shown from the Chamber of Commerce Companies Register, this does not automatically mean that there are no earlier company names that may pose a risk for the intended name. 

To conclude

Name checker is intended to serve as a first availability check for your intended name. Do you consider to clear a new company name or trade mark, or do you seek more information about this topic? Contact our trade mark attorneys.

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