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Registering and protecting your business name

View profile for Sarah Sillar
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Registering and protecting your business name

Creative but risqué entrepreneurs made the news in early September after a freedom of information request by the BBC revealed some funny, dirty and downright illegal names that people have thought up for their businesses.

Intellectual Property Associate Sarah Sillar looks at registering a business at Companies House, discussing whether doing so gives you exclusive rights.

Can a company name be offensive?

It was reported that the names which had been rejected by Companies House, the official registrar of companies, in the past two years included Cambridge Cannabis Club Limited, The Great Big Corrupt Company and Go Fudge Yaself Ltd.

When setting up a company, the job of creating a name is a difficult one, finding a unique name which has online availability for web presence and bears some relation to the business activities can take a lot of time and effort, so it is little wonder that entrepreneurs were willing to risk offending people or even committing an offence in order to find something memorable.

What are the rules for naming a business?

The rules on naming a business are contained in sections 53-55 and 1197-8 of the Companies Act and are reproduced in the full guidance issued by Companies House, generally the restrictions cover:

  • Use of names that imply a connection with royalty or government;
  • Use of names which imply the company is regulated without having proper authority from the regulatory or professional body, or that the company carries out a regulatory function; and
  • Offensive names.

Does registering a brand name with Companies House give you exclusive rights?

It is worth noting (as all savvy business owners know) that if you strike upon a great name, registering it at Companies House as part of incorporation to a limited company is only the first step.

Registering the name with Companies House does not give you exclusive rights over it, only a trademark does this.

How can I legally protect my brand name?

Trademark registration is the step that takes the name from a great idea to becoming intellectual property. It is the trademark that provides the exclusive right to use the name within the sector and therefore taking legal advice early is critical to ensuring that the company name and brand can be safely used and protected.

Specialist Intellectual Property Solicitors

At Frettens, we can provide advice and assistance in all aspects of limited company incorporation and are also able to assist clients in checking that the name chosen for the new company is available for trademark registration and undertaking the trademark registration process on their behalf.

We offer a free initial appointment to all new clients. This usually takes place over a coffee with one of our bright lawyers at our modern, conveniently located offices, but can also be over the phone or video call.

If you’d like to speak with one of our bright, friendly team, give us a call on 01202 499255.

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