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Also, you may wish to check the search available on the private business names register maintained by 'National Business Register plc' " their website can be accessed at http://www.start.biz/business_names/
You should also check the Company Names Index maintained by Companies House - http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/. Although this is a register of company names, rather than business names, this register may still reveal a name which is identical to or similar to (ignoring 'Limited' and 'Ltd.' of course) the business name you wish to use. This may be a concern, especially if the company trades in the same field as the one in which your business will trade.
Also you should check the Trade Marks Registry of the Patent Office " the website address is http://www.patent.gov.uk
Also, there are certain business names which include words or expressions that are required by regulation to be approved by the Secretary of State before they can be used. For example, business names which may mislead the public into believing that a business has a size or status that is not justified; business names which give the impression that the business is connected with Her Majesty's Government or with a local authority; business names which suggest a banking activity; names which suggest certain special institutions, activities, qualifications or services such as 'dentistry', 'police', 'health service', 'charity', 'university', 'pharmacy' 'Anzac' etc. For further information on this topic (and on business names generally) see the guidance on the Companies House website by clicking here.
Also, if you propose to trade goods or services, you should ensure that your business name does not conflict with a registered trade mark. The trade / business name does not need to be identical with a registered trade mark to cause possible conflict. It may be in breach of the registered trade mark if it is held to be confusingly similar to the registered trade mark. For further advice, including how to search the Trade Marks Register, contact the Trade Marks Registry of the Patent Office " the website address is www.patent.gov.uk.
As a starting point, it is necessary to consider the persons to whom the Business Names Act applies. Section 1 of the Business Names Act deals with that issue as follows:
"1. Persons subject to this Act
(1) This Act applies to any person who has a place of business in Great Britain and who carries on business in Great Britain under a name which -
(2) The following are permitted additions for the purposes of subsection (1) -
So for example, a business operated by a partnership comprising a Mr Smith, a Mr Jones and a Mr Harrison named 'Smith, Jones, Harrison' would not be covered by the Business Names Act (and hence would not would have to comply with the ownership disclosure requirements in the Act). But if the business were named 'Smith, Jones, Harrison Bookshop' it would be covered by the Business Names Act (as 'Bookshop' is not a surname of one of the partners) and would accordingly have to comply with ownership disclosure requirements. And a business named 'Abel Dry Cleaning' operated by a company called 'Abel Dry Cleaning Limited' would also have to comply with ownership disclosure requirements under the Business Names Act because 'Abel Dry Cleaning' is not the full corporate name of the company (i.e. the word 'Limited' has been omitted). Another example ... the Business Names Act would apply to Mr PS Ramsey (and hence he would have to comply with the ownership disclosure requirements) if he traded as 'Ramsey Furniture' but not if he traded as 'Ramsey' or 'PS Ramsey'.
Section 4 of the Business Names Act, then goes on to set out the particular disclosures required by persons using business names and to whom the Business Names Act applies and also deals with some other matters, including offence provisions:
"4. Disclosure required of persons using business names
(1) A person to whom this Act applies shall -
(2) A person to whom this Act applies shall secure that the names and addresses required by subsection (1)(a) to be stated on his business letters, or which would have been so required but for subsection (3) or (3A), are immediately given, by written notice to any person with whom anything is done or discussed in the course of the business and who asks for such names and addresses.
(3) Subsection (1)(a) does not apply in relation to any document issued by a partnership of more than 20 persons which maintains at its principal place of business a list of the names of all the partners if "
(3A) Subsection (1)(a) does not apply in relation to any document issued by a limited liability partnership with more than 20 members which maintains at its principal place of business a list of the names of all the members if "
(4) Where a partnership maintains a list of the partners' names for purposes of subsection (3), any person may inspect the list during office hours.
(4A) Where a limited liability partnership maintains a list of the members' names for the purposes of subsection (3A), any person may inspect the list during office hours.
(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations require notices under subsection (1)(b) or (2) to be displayed or given in a specified form.
(6) A person who without reasonable excuse contravenes subsection (1) or (2), or any regulations made under subsection (5), is guilty of an offence.
(7) Where an inspection required by a person in accordance with subsection (4) or (4A) is refused, any partner of the partnership concerned, or any member of the limited liability partnership concerned, who without reasonable excuse refused that inspection, or permitted it to be refused, is guilty of an offence."
In addition to the offence provisions just quoted, the Business Names Act provides a further sanction for failure to comply with section 4 " the person in breach may be unable to enforce contracts by civil action in the Courts. Section 5 of the Business Names Act is in the following terms:
"5. Civil remedies for breach of s 4
(1) Any legal proceedings brought by a person to whom this Act applies to enforce a right arising out of a contract made in the course of a business in respect of which he was, at the time the contract was made, in breach of subsection (1) or (2) of section 4 shall be dismissed if the defendant (or, in Scotland, the defender) to the proceedings shows "
unless the court before which the proceedings are brought is satisfied that it is just and equitable to permit the proceedings to continue.
(2) This section is without prejudice to the right of any person to enforce such rights as he may have against another person in any proceedings brought by that person.
Here's three ways "
1. Register a trade mark:
This can provide very good protection but it is not available for all business names and can be quite costly and can take a considerable amount of time. In essence, your chosen business name will not be eligible to be registered as a trade mark unless it is distinctive for the goods / services for which the trade mark registration is sought. The Patent Office (which operates the register of trade marks) is unlikely to register your business name as a trade mark if it is descriptive of your goods or services or any characteristic of them. For example, the business name 'Autotune' would probably not be registrable as a trade mark for automotive mechanical services, as the word is merely a composite of two common English words which are apt to describe an aspect of the services being provided. For more information visit http://www.patent.gov.uk .
2. Form a company instead:
Company formation can provide some degree of protection and is reasonably inexpensive. For example, if you registered the company name 'Cadel Constructions Limited', nobody else could then register a company in England, Scotland or Wales with that same company name. In this regard, it is worth noting that Companies House uses certain rules when deciding if two names are effectively identical. For example, Section 26(3) of the Companies Act 1985 provides that for the purpose of determining whether one name is 'the same' as another, the following are to be disregarded:
So, for example, if the company name 'Sands Limited' were already registered, Companies House would refuse to register each of the following company names because each would be regarded as legally 'the same' as 'Sands Limited':
3. Use a private business name registration service: As mentioned at the beginning of this page, there is a private organisation, called 'National Business Register', which offers a business name 'registration' service. In essence, for a fee, this organisation will place your business name on a register able to be searched by others and will also use your membership fee, at least in part, to fund legal actions if necessary against persons who might try to use your chosen 'registered' business name in a manner which a Court would consider illegal. (UKcorporator is not associated with this organisation " we merely mention it here as a resource of possible interest to readers of this page.)
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