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Sorry, unfortunately not. Registering a company name merely means that other businesses can’t register the same (or a very similar) name at Companies House.
Remember, your company name and trading name aren’t necessarily the same thing. Establishing your company name officially confirms your existence, but does nothing on a legal level to stop someone using your branding without permission. To stop that from happening, what you need is a registered trademark.
It’s inevitable that new business owners will be concerned about someone pinching their idea – but the possibility that might unknowingly be the copycat is far more pressing. Before rushing into anything, check the name you’ve come up with isn’t already trademarked by using the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)’s trademark search.
Don’t be fooled into assuming that any trademark infringement would’ve have been flagged when your registered your company. Companies House and the IPO are different departments, and (annoyingly) their databases aren’t linked.
In short, look before you leap. Just like web domains and Twitter handles, trademark availability needs to be considered before wasting any money and working hours on creating inevitably unusable business branding.
If you’re certain that what you’re trademarking will pass the rules for registration, then the standard online trademark registration rate is £170.
You’ll also be required to pick which trademark classes (which describe the nature of your business) apply to your company. If you build guitars, for example, you won’t want a competitor building guitars and calling them your name. However, you might be less fussed if a fishmonger or hairdresser opens a store with your trademarked name.
There are 45 of these classes to choose from, and the more of them you want your trademark to apply to, the more additional costs you’ll incur. Each class you add will cost an extra £50.
If you’re not sure whether the details you’re providing adhere to the rules of registration (i.e. it can’t be offensive, misleading or too generalised), you’re best off going through the ‘Right to Start’ procedure. This costs £200 plus £50 each for any additional classes, although if your application isn’t successful, you’ll only end up paying half of this. A small consolation for having to change your branding plans, at least.
Registered trademarks last for 10 years. They can be renewed for additional 10-year periods, as long as you pay the renewal fee within six months before or following the expiration date.
All three of these are related to the protection of intellectual property, but differ in the areas they cover:
If your business also trades in Europe, you can currently apply for a Community Trade Mark which protects your intellectual property in all EU countries.
At the time of writing, Britain is still in the transition period of leaving the European Union, and it’s not yet clear how laws such as these will be affected by Brexit.
We’ve got a hundred’s of helpful articles in our Knowledge section, take a look around to see how else we can help you – or why not sign up for our free self-employed community – Crunch Chorus which gives you access to our jargon-free business guides as well as great offers to simplify self-employment such as our Ultimate Business Tips Guide for the self-employed.