Many businesses think that, having incorporated a company at Companies House, they’ve secured the exclusive right to use their chosen company name. But unfortunately incorporating a company provides no guarantee that someone else won’t:
- set up a company with a similar name to yours
- use your business name as a brand
- register your business name as a trademark
Business owners often ask, “Can someone trademark my business name?” and the surprising answer is “yes.” Even if you have secured your company name at Companies House, someone else can register a trademark for that name if you haven’t!
The only way to make sure that you have the exclusive right to use your business name (and prevent others from using it) in the marketplace, is to register it as a trademark.
Should you trademark your name?
If you’re using your business name as a brand or want to make sure no one else in your sector uses a confusingly similar name, the short answer is “yes.”
Whether you should prioritise protecting your business name over the other brands you use in your business is a separate question. It all depends on how you’ve structured your brands.
Take the Virgin Group for example. This group of companies uses VIRGIN as its key parent brand and the VIRGIN brand forms part of all its sub-brands, such as Virgin Active, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Sport, Virgin Games, Virgin Orbit etc.
If your business name is your main brand, you should prioritise protecting it as a trademark in all the categories in which your business operates.
On the other hand, some businesses use different brands for their products and services – think Mondelez, the snack producer who owns brands such as Cadbury, Toblerone and Flake. While it will still be important for companies like this to trademark the name of their businesses, it’s likely that protecting their consumer brand names and logos would be a priority.
If you take a similar approach to branding, it would make sense to protect your customer-facing brands as trademarks first, as these are most likely to be copied. You can either trademark your business name at the same time, or down the track as budget allows.
How to trademark your business name
To ensure that you have exclusive rights to use your business name, you need to separately register it as a trademark. This means preparing an application where you include details of your trademark and set out clearly the products and services you want to protect, then submitting it to the UK trademark office. This is where we can help!
Trademark Planet’s fully automated self-service online trademark registration platform allows you to do this quickly and easily yourself, in 3 simple steps, whenever you want and wherever you are, without the hassle and expense of using a lawyer.
Don’t leave it until it’s too late and some else copies your ‘masterpiece’. The best time to trademark your business name is now.