When submitting your application to Companies House, the name you choose is subject to set rules and restrictions – learn more about this in ‘Useful Guide to Choosing a Limited Company Name’.
Following on from that, the following guide by Wisteria, a specialist in limited company formations, explains how to deal with objections to the name you have chosen.
Reasons for Company Name Objection
Under the Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 (SI2009/1085), Companies House will object to your chosen name under these criteria:
- the name is ‘too like’ an existing name on the index,
- the name is too similar to a name in which someone else has goodwill
- misleading information was provided when you submitted your registration,
- your company’s activities are misleading,
- your company no longer justifies omitting ‘Limited’ from its name.
What Constitutes ‘Too Like’ Names
Companies House will consider the name you have chosen as ‘too like’ an existing name if:
- the differences are so small and trivial that the public are likely to be confused by the simultaneous appearance of both names on the index.
- the names look and sound the same.
This means that the names of two companies:
- look and sound the same e.g. ‘Dynamic Technology Limited’ and ‘Dinamix Teknology Limited’
- differ by one or two letters or characters e.g. ‘Global Logistic Support Limited’ and ‘Global Logistical Support Limited’. In contrast, ‘ICL Plc’ and ‘ICG Plc’ would not be considered ‘too like’ each other.
- differ purely because of punctuation, spacing of letters or words, and/or the order of words e.g. ‘London Electricians & CORGI Gas Inspectors Limited’ and ‘London CORGI Gas Inspectors and Electricians Ltd’.
Other factors which influence a decision of ‘too like’ are:
- arguments over proprietary rights in the name,
- disputes between directors,
- dormancy or non-trading status,
- location and nature of the companies’ activities,
- trademarks/patents infringement,
- trading/business names,
- suggestion of implied association
- suggestions of passing off
What Happens If a ‘Too Like’ Objection is Made
If a company thinks your chosen name is ‘too like’ their own, they will raise an objection with Companies House – it they decide the objection is valid, they will issue you with a direction within 12 months of your company’s incorporation. You will then be required to legally change your company name within 12 weeks of the date of the direction.
Name Objection Due to ‘Misleading Indication of Activities’
Another reason for an objection to company name is if it is deemed to give a misleading indication of the nature of your business activities and the public are likely to suffer harm as a result. The typical example of this given by Companies House is if your company name and stated activities suggest you are providing training courses that the public are led to believe will lead to a recognised qualification.
In this case, an objection can be made at any time, regardless of how long your incorporated company has been operating. You will be legally required to change your company name within 6 weeks of the date of the direction.
To avoid an objection ruling, before submitting your proposed company name in your incorporation application, do use the WebCHeck service on the Companies House website to check the name is not already on the index. You want to avoid objections at all costs, since it can incur additional costs, such as new business stationery and signage, not to mention losing out on a brand your customers are familiar with. If you want full peace of mind, Wisteria advises using an experienced provider of in limited company formations.