Aug 30, 2017
Most company names clients choose are acceptable to Companies House. They are acceptable for following reasons:
1. They are unique (they are not the same as, nor very similar to, other names on the register);
2. Using the name is not a criminal offence;
3. They do not suggest a pre-eminent status which is not the case;
4. The are not offensive in themselves i.e. vulgar;
5. They contain no sensitive words for which special permission is needed or a special submission is needed.
The basic rule is: don’t try to be too clever or pretend to be something you’re not!
Let’s talk about no. 5.
There are regular words which you can’t use in a company name. Here are the lists: gov.uk/government/publications/incorporation-and-names
You may not represent that you are a government body, royalty, a bank, insurer or other entity if you do not have the permission of the related government department. Other words require supporting documentation, which may be just a simple PDF statement.
A company name like ‘The Queen Elizabeth Bank And Insurance Company Ltd’ gives naive people the impression that they are dealing with a substantial government entity.
As well as being a lie, the government will get complaints when such a bogus entity eventually collapses. Also, a government must protect its nation’s ‘brand’ from being contaminated by crooks and incompetents. If foreigners associate a country with corrupt practices, goodbye foreign investment.
A bank or an insurance company name implies that the company is highly regulated and has taken steps to ensure its clients monies are insured against loss. Startups with no capital cannot be let give this impression to naive investors.
So, there are lots of words you can’t use in your company name.
Another type of word you shouldn’t use is less obvious (to the foolish). These are words that imply that you are related to an existing, major private corporation.
For example, a name like ‘Grosvenor Coutts Alliance Ltd’ will get you hit with solicitors letters so fast you’ll be whimpering for mercy not long after you open for business. Big beasts protect their territory. They have, in some cases, spent five generations building up their famous name. They’re not going to let Joe Startup trade on it. Lions swat away warthogs that get too close. They didn’t get to be big by being pushovers.
At any one time, a major corporation will be beating back 100 different lawsuits and litigating 100 more of its own. Your cheeky little startup will be a twenty-minute workout for a junior solicitor.
It is not fun to get solicitors letters. It is even less fun to get court summons. These happen to small businesses more than you think. And for what? So a small businessman can make himself feel a bit bigger by leeching off of someone else’s success.
It’s smart to come up with a unique name: Google, Microsoft, Adidas … these names aren’t related to any existing name or brand. They’re unique. And because they’re unique they can stick in people’s minds much more easily than some bland functional name like ‘Popular Product Solutions Ltd’.
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