What’s In A Name?

Naming a company can be as important as naming a child.  It’s your passport to getting noticed in commercial life, to waving your flag and reflecting the credentials of your organisation.  In the same way there are hundreds of Zoe’s, Zacs’s and Henry’s in the UK, when you choose your new company’s name you could be in direct conflict with an established business who has had the same name registered for many years.  Research and care taken now could save considerable hassle and expense later should an objection be raised.

The UK-IPO has recently appointed a Company Names Adjudicator to make life a little easier. The role will include providing efficient links between the various regulatory bodies and  providing a framework for objections to “opportunistic” company name registrations.

By creating a link to the register of company names and the UK register of trade marks together Business Link   new businesses can carry out an initial fast track research into existing use of a proposed company name. Hopefully this will provide SME’s with the tools to research the choice of a new company name quickly and efficiently avoiding future conflict.

Says ACID’s CEO, Dids Macdonald, ‘ Whilst the Business Link search tool is excellent for the initial weeding out process, if a new company is serious about using a particular name it is always advisable to instruct a trade mark expert to carry out a more detailed search. Just because your chosen name may be available it does not necessarily mean registration will not be without challenge. So, setting budget aside to check and double check the presence of an existing trade mark could save stress later on down the line when sweat equity and investment has been put into building your brand.”

Further research should also include using search engines within a specific industry category or service area because anyone using a similar name may have built up “goodwill” which would influence their rights in name usage. Similarly a quick domain name search is also a good idea ensuring that you can develop the brand with internet usage and this will eliminate certain names which have already been purchased and which may be already in use.

Conversely, what can you do if you discover that someone else is using your name or a similar name and by its use could mislead others i.e. indicating a connection between the two of you? In the first instance ACID members may call the ACID legal hotline 0845 230 5742 and be put through to one of the ACID Accredited law firms who will provide initial free advice. Readers may also find out more about the UK IPO company names adjudicator  http://www.ipo.gov.uk/cna/cna-factsheet.htm

Point of warning – the Tribunal is limited to what the UK-IPO describes as “opportunitnistic” company names registrations. For more information click below.

sections 69(1)(a) and (b) of the Companies Act 2006 .

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