Protect your business name
True or False - My business name is protected as I have registered a company at Companies House
False! Unfortunately, a registration of a company at Companies House also doesn’t necessarily protect your business name from being used by others and certainly would not protect your logos or other branding. Your company’s brand and good reputation that has been established at so much time and cost could be ‘hijacked’ and used inappropriately which can have a devastating impact on a business. But there are steps you can take to help prevent this happening to your business.
Companies House registrations
It is true that you cannot register a company name at Companies House if someone has already registered that exact company name. However, a very similar company name can be registered at Companies House. Unless a complaint is made to Companies House within a specified time limit, that other company name might continue to use a similar name. This can be confusing not only for your business’ customers and clients (particularly if they operate in your industry) but it might also lead to errors in credit checks which could have a big impact on your business and its reputation.
Registering a trade mark
If your business uses a name, brand, catchphrase or logo that distinguishes your business and its goods or services from your competitors then you should consider whether a trade mark could be registered. The business name must be sufficiently distinct for this to be possible.
If you register a trade mark, it becomes your property; no one else can use the trade mark in your field of business. If someone tries to copy your business name or branding, you can take action for trade mark infringement. This is much preferable than the alternative; if you don’t register a trade mark, you may need to rely on the common law of ‘passing off’. This is often an extremely expensive and lengthy process as you will need to prove your interest in the trade mark and that the other party has caused damage as a result of their use of the trade mark. The outcome of such cases can be very uncertain.
Registering a trade mark can also help to deter others from using the same or a very similar trade mark to yours; it sends out a clear message that you regard the trade mark as having value and that you will take action to protect it.
Registration of a trade mark protects the trade mark for ten years – and it can be renewed for further periods of ten years. Registered trade marks are not immune from challenge by third parties but they are certainly better protected than unregistered trade marks.
For more information about registering trade marks please contact a member of our Business Support team.