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What is in a (business) name?

10 September 2012

Actually, quite a lot, as demonstrated by a recent story to come out of India.

If you are considering naming your business something equally attention-grabbing and controversial, think again. There are strict rules regarding choosing the name of your business, so consider your choice carefully. Indeed, if you are applying to register a company or a limited liability partnership with Companies House, there is a list of sensitive names which can only be used with permission. This list includes words such as Abortion, Duke Her Majesty and Police amongst others.

Likewise, Companies House may reject your company name if it deems it to be in some way offensive, such as using a swear word or, as the gormless shopkeeper did, if you should choose to name your business after a ruthless dictator. Indeed, Companies House has been known to reject quite seemingly inoffensive words such as knickers.

In addition, if you are considering registering a controversial business name as a trade mark, whether in the UK or further afield, be aware of the possibility that your trade mark application will be rejected on the grounds it is in some way immoral or offensive.

So take care when naming your business. Something which might seem distinctive and unique to you could be deemed offensive to others. If in doubt, get legal advice.

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