Three words to avoid when naming your business

Choosing a business name isn't as simple as it may seem at first sight - it's not just a matter of coming up with something memorable, but also a name that doesn't infringe someone else's trade mark.  Then there are the words you're simply not allowed to use, as Mark Kingsley-Williams of Trade Mark Direct explains.

Choosing a name for your business is up there with naming your children in terms of difficulty, writes Mark. While there is no handy ‘baby’ book of names to flick through, it's important to research potential ideas thoroughly to:
  • ensure that there isn’t another company which already has the trade mark registration
  • check whether the name is out of bounds according to Companies House’s (rather long) rules.
Examples of words and expressions which would not be allowed include those which could imply a connection with a government department or public body or suggest some kind of business pre-eminence and status. To help unravel the complexities of this, here are three common pitfalls to be avoided:

1. A name you can trust

Now, while this is one of the most important considerations when naming a company, it’s  not actually possible to use the word ‘Trust’ unless your company is involved in one of the following ‘trusts’: artistic; educational; charitable; enterprise; family; investment; financial; pensions; staff or unit trust.

2. Standards please!

High standards are to be applauded and might generate a lot of interest in your company but, unfortunately, it’s not possible to use words like ‘standards’ in its actual name.  For instance if your desired name is A Better Standard, this would not be allowed due to the fact that it implies that the company has a regulatory or supervisory role.

3. For Queen and country

A ‘country’ name cannot be used if it implies a connection with a government, local department or an authorised body.  This means that British Bakers would probably not be allowed unless this is the authorised arm of the British Bakers Federation or some such organisation or representative body. Now if your surname happens to be a Mr Wales or Mrs England, discretion would usually be shown. For instance, J R Britain Photography would be acceptable as the company name also includes initials and there is no connection implied to government. Royal names, too, are closely guarded - as one might have expected. For example, if you were the proud manufacturer of a new cat food which you were desperate to call Duchess’s Dainty Morsels or perhaps you were starting a concierge service you wanted to call On Her Majesty’s Service, you would need prior permission from The Cabinet Office and in both these examples this would probably not be forthcoming.

You couldn’t make it up... But we recommend you do

Our advice is use your common sense when naming your company and, if possible, get creative as made up names are by far the easiest to trade mark and will also give you a distinct and unique brand. Trade Mark Direct is a trade mark advice and registration company that specialises in helping small businesses create and protect their trade marks.

Read more about trade marking and branding on Enterprise Nation

Photo credit: Nina Jean

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