What to do if your Limited Company Name is taken

When you’re starting a company you’ll need to brainstorm a few limited company names until you find the one you’d like to register.  Before you register the name with Companies House you’ll need to check that no one else has taken it for their business already.

How do you check if the name you want is free?

To register your business with Companies House it needs to be unique. Checking whether your pool of limited company names are available before you decide the one you’d like to register can save you time. You can do this online with The Formations Company for free.

Hopefully, you can register your chosen business name. However, what happens if it has been taken? Here we take a look at your options. We’ll also look at whether there’s anything you can do to get the name you really want.

Does your chosen limited company name belong to a sole trader?

If the name you’d like for your startup has been taken by a sole trader you may still be able to use it. However, it might be a good idea to start thinking of alternative limited company names. It really depends on the proximity of your two businesses. If the business with the same name operates locally to you or if they have a national set up, your two companies both having the same name could cause customers to become confused. The sole trader could then sue you for passing off your business and trading on their reputation and brand.

Does your chosen name belong to a limited company?

Let’s say the limited company names you are considering have already been taken by a public or private limited company, or a limited liability partnership. However, you’d also like to incorporate your company. This means you’ll need to register a different limited company name. Legally you are unable to register with the same company name as any other on the register.

Has another business trademarked the name?

Registering a name as a trademark with the Intellectual Property Office means that you have exclusive rights to that name within the class under which it’s registered. So if you want to register a limited company name that is even similar to one that has been registered as a trademark, and you’re setting up in the same industry, you’ll need to rethink.

When you might have recourse

Let’s say you’ve already been trading under your chosen name as a sole trader. You’ve now chosen to register your sole trader name with Companies House only to find that someone else has already registered with the same limited company name. If you suspect that they’ve done so for financial gain, you may be able to make a claim at the Company Names Tribunal.

Choosing your limited company name wisely

There are many options when it comes to choosing limited company names. It’s a good idea to bear in mind your plans for the future of your business too. Consider the impact your name will have if you choose to expand, relocate, or change target audience and try not to be restrictive.

As well as checking which limited company names are available, you can also make sure that the URL you want to use for your online presence is also available.

Registering your business name with Companies House

Registering as a limited company is very straightforward. It is the best way to protect your business name. It can also take as little as 24 working hours. This is when you choose to set up through The Formations Company and can cost less than you’d imagine too.

Brainstorming limited company names can be a fun exercise, just remember to check that your ideas are available to register with Companies House before you settle on one name.

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