New Name Availability Standard

effective on August 21, 2000.


Effective August 21, 2000, Act 43 of 2000 amended the Associations Code and the Fictitious Names Act and changed the standard for associations and fictitious names from "the same or confusingly similar" to "distinguishable upon the record." Prior to Act 43, the general test for name availability was that the Department of State would not accept a filing creating or registering an association if the name of the association was "the same as or confusingly similar to" a name already on file. With the enactment of Act 43, names that are distinguishable upon the record will be accepted. This new standard will serve to reduce the circumstances in which an existing name will conflict with a new name, and, thus, make more names available.

What is a "distinguishable" name under the new standard?

A distinguishable name is one which adequately differentiates an association from other associations. In accordance with Act 43, a name shall not be considered distinguishable upon the records of the department......solely because the names differ from each other in any or all of the following respects:

  1. Use of punctuation marks.
  2. Use of a definite or indefinite article, that is, "a", "an" or "the."
  3. Use of any of the following terms to designate the status of an association: corporation, company, incorporated, limited, association, fund, syndicate, limited partnership, limited liability company, trust or business trust. This paragraph includes abbreviations, in any language, of the terms listed in this paragraph.

The three provisions cited above are the only conditions which will not make a name "distinguishable upon the record." Geographic and numeric designations, phonetic similarities, plurals, the inclusion of words such as in, at, from, and, or, and abbreviations of words (other than corporate designators) will make names distinguishable.

The following are examples of the application of the new standard:

XYZ Inc. and XYZ I
XYZ One Inc. and XYZ Inc.
XYZ Inc. and XYZ of Pittxburgh
XYZ of Pittsburgh and XYZ of Philadelphia

Not Distinguishable
XYZ Corp. and XYZ Co.
A XYZ Inc. and The XYZ Inc.
X.Y.Z. Inc. and XYZ Inc.

Should you have any questions, please call our Customer Service Representatives at (717) 787-1057 option 3.

Modified Date: 08/24/2009 10:25 AM