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A client query:

“Can you advise what we need to do to register a “trading name” against

our limited company.

“The additional trading name will be used purely for web generated

sales of software, and would benefit from distinct identity, so no

changes should be required to SIC codes”.

Our reply:

“Theres no central registry of business names any more, legally. There are a couple of private companies who trade with names such as “The business registry” but these are, in essence, scams.

“The only real protection you have is the legal offence of passing off, eg someone passing themselves off as you. EG, Harrods took action successfully against “Harolds” garage, where “Harold” was written in a stylised text similar to “Harrods” logo. By contrast Trusthouse Forte took action against Forte’s tea rooms, which was owned by a Mr Forte, but the courts said Mr Forte was entitled to trade under his own name so long as he didn’t pretend to be part of Trusthouse Forte.

“Similarly if a Mr Whitefield in the North East set up as “Whitefield accountants” we would probably have no recourse; if he set up on the Isle of Wight, maybe, maybe not. If he set up and started trying to target our clients or specialised areas then we probably would.

“You may get some additional protection from registering a dormant company with your trading name, and, or course, registering domains.”