Protecting your name

You’ve been trading as a limited company for a while and all is going well and then you hear about another business trading with the same name, but not as a limited company, or, as a limited company but very similar name to yours. What can you do ?

Firstly, if the company is another registered company with Companies House, you can make an objection to Companies House and the Company Names Tribunal

However if they haven’t gone through the limited company formation process and they are just a sole trader, then they haven’t registered anywhere to be able to complain to, so your option then is the legal route, called “passing off”

This is when another business is getting benefit from your advertising and marketing, however it can be difficult to prove.  Primarily you have to prove “goodwill” in your name and this can only usually be done if you’ve been trading for several years for that goodwill to have built up.

You may find that a strongly worded legal letter is enough to get them to change their name – however it really should be from a solicitor rather than writing your own letter. If it doesn’t get resolved like this it can be expensive to go to court and settle it that way.

Your other possibility is to register your name as a trademark (if its not a generic word) as this gives you more rights over the name. Check out our trademark articles for more information

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