Changes to the rules regarding business names came into effect on 31st January 2015. The changes were outlined after a government consultation, which asked for views on the existing rules relating to names of registered companies that are similar to those of other businesses and words and expressions that were previously deemed ‘sensitive’. Those embarking on new company formations may wish to register several variations on their name to stop their competitors taking advantage of the new rules.

The changes mean that fewer words will be disregarded when deciding whether one name is too similar to another name on the register. The new rules mean that companies can expect to enjoy a greater level of choice. The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2014 will mean that name swaps within groups will be easier to implement.

Words that are being removed include ‘exports’, ‘group’, ‘holdings’, ‘imports’, ‘international’ and ‘services’. These words were previously part of “same as” considerations but will now be seen as distinct at the end of company names. Gaelic and Welsh equivalent words will also be regarded as distinct. Updates have been made to the list of permitted characters, signs, symbols and punctuation, meaning accents and ‘other diacritical marks’ are now included.

The new rules mean that companies will be able to secure prestigious names that they have been unable to assume before now. The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 (No.3140) mean that words including ‘group’, ‘national’ ‘holding’, ‘international’ and ‘United Kingdom’ are no longer treated as sensitive.
Experts predict that the changes will result in a “land grab” from businesses seeking to register prestigious company names like “United Kingdom Exports Limited”. With Companies House registrars dealing with applications on a “first come, first served” basis, it’s important to act now if there is a sought after name you would like to register. Companies will still be permitted to object to Companies House if they feel a name is too similar to theirs. Companies that have benefitted from previous “same as” legislation may wish to register a number of different names to stop their competitors from using them.

Talk to us today for advice on the changes or to discuss company formations.