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Registering a business name

Once you've been through the process of Naming your Business, you'll be ready to take the next step - registering your business name.

All businesses and intellectual property rights in South Africa must be registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). The CIPC provides information of its business registers, promotes education and awareness of company and intellectual property law, and fulfills various other legislative functions.

Important: Contrary to popular belief, registering your business name does NOT mean legal ownership. To get that, you have to trademark your business name.

Where to register your business name

You can register your business name nationally through the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)

Note: The registration of companies has been simplified under the New Companies Act and the reservation of a company name in terms of the old Companies Act is no longer a prerequisite. A company can now be registered with its registration number as its name, until a new name has been registered. Under the previous Act the process of reserving a name could often result in substantial delays. What is a trademark?

A trademark is a brand name, a slogan or a logo. It identifies the services or goods of one person and distinguishes it from those of another. Examples include Standard Bank, MTN and Edgars.

Many small businesses choose a name without doing the research to see if someone else already holds a trademark for it. When a trademark (brand name, slogan or logo) has been registered, nobody else can use this trademark, or one that is confusingly similar. If this happens, legal action may result.

Why register a trademark?

A trademark can only be protected and defended under the Trademarks Act if it is registered. Unregistered trademarks may be defended in terms of common law. The registration procedure results in a registration certificate which has legal status, allowing the owner of the registered trademark the exclusive right to use that mark.

CIPC administers the Register of Trademarks that is the record of all the trademarks that have been formally applied for and registered in the Republic of South Africa.

Some other points to consider

Your trademark must distinguish your goods or services from others in the marketplace. Also – it is very difficult to register trademarks that:

  • Denote the kind, quality, intended purpose or value of the goods or services

  • Are common surnames or geographical names

  • Conflict with an earlier trade mark, or would mislead the public about the nature of the goods or services

It's a good idea to brainstorm several business names and draw up a list of favourites. That way if your first choices aren't available, your business start-up won't be delayed by going back to square one!

How to register a business name with CIPC:

Step 1: Visit

Visit the CIPC website at www. cipc. co. za

Step 2: Register

  • If you're not an existing customer, click on Customer Registration to register and complete the required fields and submit.

Step 3: Deposits/ Banking Details

  • You must ensure that once you have submitted the request to file a private company there are sufficient funds in the account for CIPC to process the transaction.

  • The reference number on the deposit slip will assist CIPC to allocate the deposit accurately and on time to your virtual account.

  • Allow 2 to 3 working days (depending on your deposit type) for your funds to be cleared in your virtual account at CIPC.

  • The basic filing fee is R175 if the company's Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) is filed in the form CoR15.1 A [This amount is as of July 2014 and could change]. 

Step 4: Login as a Customer

  • If already registered as a Customer, click on Customer Login. Type in Customer Code and Password selected at Customer Registration.

Step 5:Select New Companies Option

Step 6: Add Company Details

Step 7: Add Incorporator Details

  • Incorporators can either be Natural Incorporators, or Juristic Incorporators. Select Natural Incorporators if the Incorporator is a natural person and Juristic Incorporators if the Incorporator is another company, close corporation, trust or body corporate.

Step 8: Add Initial Directors' Details

  • Click on Directors on the New Company screen, and then on Add Initial Directors details. If you want to add another Director, or Alternate Director, click again on Add Initial Director(s) Details.

Step 9: Add Auditor Details

  • Appointment of auditor details may be filed if the company chooses or is required in terms of the Companies Regulation 28 to appoint an auditor. If not submitted at incorporation, a form CoR44 must be lodged within 40 business days after date of incorporation.

Step 10:Add Company Secretary Details

Step 11:

  • Once the Company Details, Incorporators, Directors, Auditors and Company Secretary details have been completed and verified, a "General Notice regarding filing of Application" is displayed. Write down the Tracking Number, for future reference. A list of all relevant tracking numbers for the relevant customer code will be displayed. 

  • You will have the option to Open or Save the PDF document with all the details that you completed.

  • Save the document, print two copies and sign them.

  • The CoR14.1 must be signed by one person.

  • The CoR15.1 must be signed by all Incorporators or Representatives.

  • Hand-deliver or post the signed documents to CIPC. 

For more information, read our articles on Protecting your Idea and Setting up a Business.

For more info visit: CIPC