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Has your dream business name ever hit the walls at the Corporate Affairs Commission?

Or maybe you applied through your lawyer series of times and it seems all the names in the world have been picked and nothing will ever go through?

These thoughts are not strange at all because they happen to the best of us; as a matter of practice, I usually reserve four names at a go for my clients with the hope that at least one of them will be reserved.

There are no magic to getting a name approved if you play by the rules.

One of the rules is that certain name forms will never be reserved because they contain word(s) that are prohibited.

You can imagine that where you avoid those words as much as possible, you will stand greater chances of having your preferred name approved.

What I will do in this article will be to give you hints on how to structure your business name options in such a way that they will have greater chances of being approved by the Corporate Affairs Commission; the hints are not an absolute guarantee, but they definitely will increase the chances of the names that you may have come up with. 

If you are not yet with your pen, you might just be late because am all set.

Beware of Prohibited Names

If you have ever visited a site containing inflammable substances, one of the signposts that you might see is the “No Smoking” sign.

This is also applicable when trying to reserve a name at the Corporate Affairs Commission; certain name formats will just not go through because they are absolutely not allowed.

Unfortunately, the Corporate Affairs Commission does not have an exhaustive list of prohibited names but the hints given by the Commission are that your preferred names should not be such as is capable of misleading [the public] as to the nature and extent of your business’s activities, or such that is undesirable, offensive or contrary to public policy.
Overcome the Hurdles of Restricted Names

Certain names are restricted for somereasons particularly where a similar name had been registered earlier by the Commission. In that case, it does not mean that the name cannot be reserved for your use at all; it only means that you will have to do more to get the name reserved.

Your preferred name could be restricted for any of the following reasons, and if restricted, you can still get it reserved if you fulfill the suggestions after each of the point I have identified below:

  • Where it is identical with or similar to the name of a company that is already registered with the Commission. Suggestion: If the registered company is in the process of being dissolved, you may obtain a letter of consent from the company to use the name.
  • Where it is identical with or similar to any existing trademark,or registered business/company name. Suggestion: If you are able to obtain a written consent from the owner of the existing trademark,or business/company name, the Commission may consider your application.
  • Where it contradicts or will violate any incorporated trustee. Suggestion: If you are able to obtain the written consent of the trustees, your application might be considered by the Commission.
  • Where it contains the words “Chamber of Commerce”. Suggestion: If what you seek to register is a Company Limited by Guarantee, the Commission will consider your application.
Hint 3:
Seek the Consent of the Commission First if Your Preferred NameContains Any of the Following Words:

  • Federal
  • National
  • Regional
  • State Government
  • Municipal
  • Chartered
  • Co-operative
  • Building society
  • Group
  • Holding
  • Any word that is suggestive of a temporary business arrangement. E.g. consortium
  • Any word that is suggestive of the patronage of [a] Federal or State Government, Ministry or Department.
  • Any word that is suggestive of connection with any municipality or other local authority.
Hint 4:
Where Your Preferred Name Is Already In Existence, Reconstruct It By Introducing Symbols, Punctuation, Characters, Signs, And Roman Numerals.

This step is simple and very creative. As a matter of fact, this style is trending among many 21stcentury businesses. Below are examples:


77dot Technology

Nine-27thImagine Design

Perfect IV-niture

The practice of introducing symbols, punctuation, characters, signs, and roman numerals to differentiate a proposed name from a name that is already registered is also recognized in the United Kingdom by virtue of The Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009.

Care must however be taken to ensure that the proposed name is distinct from the registered name as the owner of the latter name may approach the court in an action for Tort of Passing off, or apply to the Corporate Affairs Commission through its complaints procedure.
Hint 5:
Let Your Preferred Name Speak Volume of the Nature of Your Business

This hint may be better looked at as an advice than a hint.

One of your best options is to create a name that is self expressive of your business so that if that name is on your complementary card without more and that card is given to a potential client, it will be expressive of what your business is all about.

In our ever busy business climate, it is not every potential customer that you meet that you will be able to narrate all that you do to, so let your name also do the speaking.
Hint 6:
The List May Just Be Endless, Let Us Have Your Say In The Comment Box Below… 

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