Your business’ branding begins with your name, so it is imperative to protect your company’s name. A protected name means that no other business can poach your name and you don’t incur the cost of a rebrand in case you lose your business name later down the line.
There are a few ways to secure your business name due to this there are a few things to consider before you begin. However, we’re here to help guide you through your options and make the process as simple as possible.
Before we begin, there are differences between a company name and a trading name. Your registered company name does not necessarily have to be the same as the name you trade with. For example, at Companies House you may be registered as John A Smith Car Service LTD, but you may choose to trade (have on your website your storefront etc.) as John’s Car Service. This is a viable option if your chosen name is taken, or if you want to include a ‘sensitive word’ in your trading name.
Choose a business name
Before you begin, you want to make sure your company name is available. Picking a name which is similar to an existing company, can become a costly mistake.
Skip the risk and use our company name checker to make sure your company name is free to use. Then you can begin the process of protecting and securing that name.
Sole Trader versus Limited Company
As a sole trader, there is no need to register your organisation with Companies House, which means there is no ‘official’ register of your business. Due to this, it is possible that your company name can be taken and registered by anyone else.
There are a few ways to avoid this from happening, the easiest way is to incorporate your business into a Limited Liability Company. There are many benefits to trading as an LTD, and in this case, the main benefit is securing your business name.
Once your name is registered you have good grounds to contest new businesses that have similar names to yours. If you can prove your reputation and ‘goodwill’ over the name, you can try and bring a ‘passing off’ claim to businesses which may try to use your name, particularly if these businesses are aiming to cause damage to your reputation, or attempting to confuse your client base.
Being a limited company gives your business and yourself an extra layer of protection and it is the most straightforward and cost-effective way of protecting your business name.
Another way to protect your brand name is by getting it trademarked. A trade mark gives its owner exclusive rights to the name that is trademarked. It also means you can take legal action over unauthorised use of the trade mark. With a trademark, you can also sell and licence your brand.
You can trademark words, logos, sounds, colours or any combination of these. Think of Tiffany Blue or the Coca Cola logo, red, and name. However, there are limitations to what you can trade mark. For example, your trade mark cannot be offensive, misleading, too common and non-distinctive, generic or make use of things such as flags, emblems or hallmarks which you do not have permission to use.
A trade mark costs £170 to register but can cost more depending on what you use the trademark for. Similar to a name, before registering your trademark you need to make sure it is not similar to any existing trade marks.
Reserve a company name
If you’re not ready to start your own business or operate an LTD then you can reserve a company name until you are ready. This is a great solution if you still want to work as a sole trader, or need more time before fully incorporating your business.
By reserving a name you can secure your business name but still take your time to get your business up and running. As soon as you’re ready to trade under your name, we can notify the company house and your business will be up and running.
Protecting your business name early in your startup journey can save you from headaches in the long run. After all, your name is the basis of your company, your branding and marketing.