Determination of whether a company name is “the same as” another
(a) The following shall be disregarded:
-- the definite article, where it is the first word of the name
(e.g. The ABC Limited = ABC Limited)
-- the ending words or expressions “company”, “and company”, “company limited”, “and company limited”, “limited”, “unlimited”, “public limited company”, their abbreviations, and the ending characters “公司”, “有限公司”, “無限公司” and “公眾有限公司”
(e.g. ABC Company Limited = ABC Limited = ABC Co., Limited; 甲乙丙有限公司 = 甲乙丙公眾有限公司)
-- type or case of letters, spaces between letters, accent marks, and punctuation marks
(e.g. A-B-C Limited = a b c Limited)
(b) The following words and expressions are regarded as the same:
“and” and “&”
“Hong Kong” , “Hongkong” and “HK”
“Far East” and “FE”
(e.g. ABC Hong Kong Limited = ABC Hongkong Limited = ABC HK Limited)
(c) Two Chinese characters will be regarded as the same if the Registrar is satisfied, having regard to the usage of the two characters in Hong Kong, that they can reasonably be used interchangeably (e.g. 恆=恒; 峯=峰: 匯=滙).
Criteria which the Registrar will apply in forming an opinion on whether two names are “too like”
In considering whether two company names are “too like”, the Registrar of Companies will take account of all factors which suggest similarity and may lead to confusion between the names of two companies. These will include, for example, the nature of the businesses concerned, the public awareness of the names concerned, evidence of confusion etc. Subject to this requirement, names may be considered to be “too like” in the opinion of the Registrar of Companies if –
(a) the names are visually and/or phonetically identical or similar;
(b) there is only a slight variation in the spelling of the two names and the variation does not make a significant difference between the names, e.g. grammatical variations such as trade/trading, addition of “s” or “es”.
(c) the names contain a word or words which might be regarded as a distinctive element, unless that element is qualified in such a way as would minimise risk of confusion. A distinctive element will normally be defined as “English made up words”, “non-dictionary English words” or “unusual combinations of two or more letters as a key part”. In some cases, everyday words used in a “distinctive” way may also be considered as distinctive elements. Place names, or everyday descriptive words in general use will not normally be regarded as distinctive. Similar business classifier or descriptive elements, e.g. press/printing, staff agency/employment agency, or the inclusion in one name of only a general or “weak” qualification such as international, holding, group, services etc., would not normally be regarded as a sufficient qualification or distinction.
1. Names which are the same - KWUN TONG ENGINEERING LIMITED v KWUN TONG ENGINEERING COMPANY LIMITED or 發達(貿易)有限公司 v 發達貿易有限公司.
2. Names which are phonetically identical - LYFECITY LIMITED v LIFECITY LIMITED and AB-CHEM LIMITED v ABKEM LIMITED or 興隆企業有限公司 v 興龍企業有限公司.
3. Names in which the slight variation in spelling does not make a significant difference - CONSOLAIR LIMITED v CONSULAIR LIMITED or 美儂有限公司 v 美濃有限公司.
4. Grammatical variations which do not have significant difference - ADVANCE TRAVEL LIMITED v ADVANCED TRAVEL LIMITED.
5. Names which contain the same distinctive element –
(a) Where the names are sufficiently qualified - FACTROMATIC COMPUTERS LIMITED v FACTROMATIC PLANT HIRE LIMITED.
(b) Where the names are not sufficiently qualified - MECHALA LIMITED v MECHALA HOLDING LIMITED or ODDBODS PRESS LIMITED v ODDBODS PRINTING LIMITED or 禾豐印刷有限公司 v 禾豐印務有限公司.