One of the most important aspects of setting up a limited company is registering a company name so that it cannot be used by a competitor.
In this blog, we will consider the process which must be followed to successfully register a company name. We will also take a look at some of the factors that should be taken into account when choosing a name for your business.
What is the procedure to register a company name?
The only way to register a company name is to form a limited company. A company name cannot be reserved or held on its own, without an associated limited company. In other words, the process of registering a company name is exactly the same as the procedure of registering a limited company with Companies House.
The first step to forming a limited company will be to choose the company name. There are some specific rules which must be followed to successfully do this:
Identical and similar names
Each company name is unique. It is impossible to register two instances of a company name. You can search the existing register of companies to find out if a particular company name has already been taken. Furthermore, a name cannot be too similar to an existing company name, particularly if the other company is a competitor.
Trying to register a company name that is too similar to an existing company name can result in the application for company registration being rejected. Our company search tool can help determine if a potential name is too similar to an existing company name.
Offensive or sensitive words
A company name cannot contain any words which could be deemed offensive, such as swear words or discriminatory words. Furthermore, there should not be any words that are sensitive according to the rules, e.g. “bank” or “government”.
Subject to obtaining an exemption, all private limited company names should end in “Limited” or “Ltd” or their Welsh equivalents.
Aside from choosing the name, other essential steps for setting up a limited company and registering a company name include:
- Selecting one or more company directors
- Specifying at least one shareholder and allocating shares to them
- Identifying people with significant control
If a company is being formed primarily to register a company name for future use, the business owner will normally specify themselves as the sole director and shareholder. Once the company starts trading, it is possible to appoint more directors and bring in new shareholders.
How do you choose a company name to register?
You should not register a company name without first putting serious thought into it. Everyone will approach this choice differently, but there are certain common elements that should be considered.
Company names are normally chosen for one of three reasons:
- Descriptive of the product or service, e.g. Burger King
- Named after the founder, e.g. McDonald’s
- Branding reasons, e.g. Virgin or Apple
Descriptive names can help to promote a business online, as any keywords are picked up by search engines. Conversely, if the name includes very common words, this can make it more difficult to achieve a good ranking, as there will be a lot of competition.
If you choose to register a company name that is unique, this can help to ensure it remains distinct from any competition. And sometimes a memorable and uncommon company name can help to build a brand (e.g. Google). However, it is important to ensure that it is not too complicated to say or spell, as this can make it more difficult for word-of-mouth recommendations to gain traction.
Avoid choosing a name that is similar to that of a competitor, as this can result in legal claims for passing off. It’s also important to ensure that you do not inadvertently register a company name that has potentially controversial meanings in other languages or as slang terms.
Including a geographical location in the name can both help and hinder your business, depending on the particular circumstances. Some companies may curry favour with the locals by including the name of their local town or city – and it can even help with search engine optimisation (SEO). On the other hand, boasting local credentials can prevent a business from expanding to other geographic areas, and may not prove very useful for an online business.
Where else should you register a company name?
Obtaining a suitable domain name is almost as important as registering a company name.
It is generally a good idea to check if your domain name is also available before registering your company name.
A trademark is a sign which helps a business distinguish its goods or services from those of other businesses. This is generally used for branding efforts, and it is often totally separate from the registered company name. However, it can sometimes be used to protect a business name more generally, to further prevent competitors from trying to use similar names.
Before registering a company name, it can be a good idea to conduct a few basic trade mark searches to find out if the name could potentially infringe a registered trade mark.
Are you ready to register a company name?
We offer a number of services designed to help you get started:
We hope this blog post has been useful. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.