Choosing a Business Name
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1 February 2011
There are many issues that affect choosing
a business name, and this article will look at some of them.
What is a business name?
Where any person, partnership or company
uses a name for carrying on business, then that name can be legally
defined as a 'business name'. However, an individual using his or her
own name for a business will not fall within the legal ambit of being a
Choosing the right name for your
It is advisable that you seek independent
legal advice before deciding on a specific business name. You should
also carry out some research before choosing the final name. A simple
'Google' search is always a good start for this. Then consider looking
at specialist areas, such as phone books, business directories, trade
journals and magazines to check if any business is already using the
same (or similar) name in the specific field your business operates in.
Using the same name?
Using an identical or similar name to
another business, could result in infringing the intellectual property
rights of the other business. For example, some businesses register
their business name as a trademark.
The Law relating to business
Business names are covered by the Business
Names Act 1985 (the "Act"), in England and Wales. This Act contains all
the requirements in relation to choosing and registering a business
The Act applies to the following entities:
a) A company trading under a name which
is not its corporate name, for example if a company called ABC Limited
trades as DEF Food Supplies.
b) A partnership that is not trading
under the names of all of the partners
c) An individual trading under a name
that is not exclusively his or her surname. For example, where Philip
Williams trades under the name of P Williams & Company, then
the Act will apply.
The Act prohibits certain names and a copy
of the list can be obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry
(DTI) or Companies House. Names which suggest to the public that they
are connected with royalty or the Government are prohibited, unless
they have specific endorsement allowing them to use the name.
Although the Act does not mention internet
domain names (the legislation predates the use of domain names), it is
widely accepted that as a domain name is a trade name then the act will
It is always advisable that you
consult a solicitor or other legal advice provider, to ensure that you
follow all the rules that apply under the Business Names Act 1985 when
choosing a business name.
Inam Ali is a Solicitor at Lawdit, specialising in
Commercial Property and Intellectual Property Law and can be contacted
via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Lawdit Solicitors offer services and
advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal
agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on
Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court
Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign
association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-02-10 14:12:46 in Legal Articles