IP myth: Protecting your business name at Companies House provides you with automatic trade mark rights
1st June 2022 by Edwina Bones
It is a common misconception that registering a company name at Companies House automatically grants you rights in the name from a trade mark perspective. Equally when protecting a business name as a trade mark, it is sometimes assumed that you have the rights to this name at Companies House. This is wrong and problematic to businesses for the following reasons:
- If you register your company name at Companies House and assume you have the right to use it as a trade mark, you could in fact be infringing someone’s trade mark with the same name and you may find yourself being contacted by an angry trade mark owner, or worse, their lawyer.
- If you register your company name, this only prevents a third party from registering the same identical name at Companies House. It does not stop a third party from registering all or part of your company name as their trade mark, or from using all or part of your company name in their branding.
- Whilst you have to declare your registered company number in some instances, you do not have to use your registered company name as your trading name. A company could for example be Apples Limited but trading under the name Pears.
The key point to note is that a trade mark register (whether it is in the UK, EU or the World Intellectual Property Office for international territories) and Companies House are in no way connected. For example, Companies House will not notify you if your company name is the same as a registered trade mark name, and the trade mark register will not check Companies House to determine if the same name is registered as a company. If you would like to use a potential trading name as your registered company name and protect it as a brand, it would be prudent to carry out a trade mark search before registering your company at Companies House, and if it is available, you should apply to register the name as a trade mark as soon as possible before someone gets there before you. Once a trade mark is registered (which in the UK can take up to 4 – 6 months) it will provide you with the right to use the name and stop third parties from using the same or confusingly similar name in relation to the same/similar goods/services. You will want to register the name at Companies House as soon as possible too, but it is usually cheaper to change a company name at Companies House than it is to rebrand your business!
If you would like any further advice about this, or how to carry out these searches our Corporate and Commercial team at Laceys would be delighted to assist you with any queries you may have about this. Please contact us at email@example.com or on 01202 377800.