We are often asked to register a trading name for an existing company. Usually, this is done so an incorporated business can develop a new brand with a name that is different to their existing company name. Unfortunately, there is no formal process that can be employed to do this; no registrar of trading names. However, there are ways to safeguard the use of a trading name.
The most effective strategy is to register a second limited company, with the required trading name, and keep it on the shelf, dormant. You will have to pay to incorporate the new company, and file annual accounts and other returns, but no-one else will be able to register a company with the same name.
Companies House also advise registering a trade mark if you want to stop other businesses from using your trading name. Here’s what they say on this matter:
You can trade using a different name to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’.
Business names must not:
- be the same as an existing trade mark
- include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
- contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission
You’ll need to register your name as a trade mark if you want to stop people from trading under your business name.
You can’t use another company’s trade mark as your business name.
Registering a trade mark can be a drawn out and expensive process, but if you have good reason to protect your business name this may be a worthwhile investment. If you decide to do this, registering a trade mark does not preclude forming a company with the same name, and so a combination of the two would be a belts and braces solution.
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