An opportunity for brand owners?

A recent decision of the Company Names Tribunal sends a further warning to companies who seek to profit from opportunistic company name registrations.

Company name adjudicators can order a company to change its registered name in circumstances where it considers the name registration to have been “opportunistic”.  A company name registration is likely to be regarded as opportunistic where either that registration is the same as the name associated with an established brand, or where it is sufficiently similar to another company name to suggest a connection between the companies. 

If the registration is found to be opportunistic, the offending company is given one month to voluntarily change its name.  If it does not, the company names adjudicator may order Companies House to change the company’s name without consent.

In a recent judgment, Adecco UK Limited v Adecco UK Recruitment Limited, the Company Names Tribunal exercised this power after determining “Adecco UK Recruitment Limited” was an opportunistic name registration that sought to pass itself off as being part of the “Adecco UK Limited” Group of companies.  This decision became the seventh made by the Companies Names Tribunal since its inception in December 2008, each of which has been determined in favour of the applicant.

Patricia Jones, a specialist IP lawyer says, This decision provides further evidence that the company names adjudicator will not tolerate opportunistic company name registrations, and empowers companies who feel their rights have been infringed in this area to make an application to the Company Names Tribunal for redress.”

Applications to the Company Names Tribunal cost £400 and are an inexpensive and swift method of taking action against opportunistic company name registrations. Applications require the completion of a standard form containing evidence supporting the application. Upon being notified of an application against it, a company may challenge the application, or, as in each of the seven applications to date, not respond to the application and have judgment served against it “in default”.

Patricia added, “The rewards for a successful application are evident – the purported infringement is brought to an end, without recourse to litigation and without spending large sums of money. Indeed, a successful applicant can expect to recover in the region of £600 in costs if an application is determined in their favour”.

Comments are closed.