When establishing a company in the Netherlands, one of the main requirements to be aware of is the distinguishability of the trade name used by the company. A company name search must find the proposed trade name to be unique, to the degree that it can be separated from all other companies. The purpose behind this and the accompanying trademark laws, is to ensure clarity in business operations and avoid general confusion among the public.
To accomplish this, a name search must be conducted through The Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce site (Kamer van Koophandel). Searching for a company name can be initially completed free of charge. However, an official extract, a process which allows for three proposed trade names to be submitted, requires the exchange of a small service fee. A secondary search can also be conducted through the Benelux Trademark Office, based in The Hague. If requested, the trade name can also be registered on this site for additional protection against infringement of the name.
The trade name selected must be distinctive in nature and should avoid being vague or too general, failure to do so would conflict with strict intellectual property regulations. Considering this, it is generally advised that the company name be reflective of identity of the company but also, that it does not conflict with the name of the goods or services provided. For many, incorporating the characters ‘NV’ or BV’ for public and private limited liability companies into the trade name is also a mandatory requirement.
In order for the trade name to be registered it must have an officially recognised domicile in the Netherlands. The official domicile of the company must be a registered address and be clearly identified in the company’s Articles of Association. In conjunction with this, the company must have a legally recognised office address. This can be established either within or outside The Netherlands. Although for easier transitions and the fulfilment of certain obligations, mainly tax, it is preferable to have this office based in Holland.
In compliance with both Dutch and EU Law, the trade register ensures the relevant documents of a company, including its registered trade name, are sufficiently and reliably compiled in a central register. As such any company name search conducted can be done so with both legitimacy and reliability. Information on companies can be found dating back to the 1920, the establishment of the current register.
Searching for a company name must be done so in a thorough manner. The trade register will present a report of any existing company searched under the given names. Which will include among other things:
Acquiring this report, or rather the lack of it, provides fulfilment of the adequate due diligence steps that need to be taken, ensuring compliance with any relevant trademark laws.
Consulting the trade register for a company name search when setting up a business in the Netherlands should be seen as a mandatory requirement, to avoid any future legal and financial consequences.