Companies may have the same commercial name, but only if this does not mislead consumers about the goods and services that they offer on the market. This conclusion was reached on February 11, 2020, by the Cassation Economic Court of the Supreme Court of Ukraine.
In the summer of 2018, Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant PJSC filed a lawsuit demanding the Trade Union Organization of Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant PJSC to stop using the commercial (company) name ‘Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant PJSC’ and ‘KRIOP PJSC’ (ПАТ ‘КЗРК’ in Ukrainian) by excluding this name from its name and making the necessary changes to constituent documents and state registers.
The plaintiff justified this by saying that the opponent illegally, without its permission, uses the commercial (business) name of KRIOP PJSC, which can lead to the identification of the plaintiff and the defendant, loss of business reputation, as well as infringement of intellectual property rights and intangible rights of the plaintiff.
Both the trial court and the court of appeal rejected the claims of Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant PJSC. The Supreme Court agreed with their findings, emphasizing that the legislation of Ukraine provides for the possibility to have the same commercial names if this does not mislead consumers regarding the goods that they produce and/or sell and the services that they provide.
The defendant, being an unprofitable public association (trade union), does not produce goods and does not render services in the commercial sphere. Therefore, the partial coincidence of the names of legal entities – society and organization, in principle, cannot mislead consumers because of the lack of goods or services by the trade union.