Object to a Company Name through the Company Names Tribunal

Where you come across a company with a registered name that is confusingly similar to your existing company name or registered trademark, a lesser known cause of action is available to help you.

Instead of pursuing a costly and time consuming trademark infringement or passing off action, for £400 an application can be made to the Company Names Tribunal to force the company to change its name where you have generated goodwill/reputation in the name. The route can also be utilised where a third party registers a company name with the main purpose of attempting to prevent you from registering it, or demanding payment is made before they release it to you.

Generally applications are successful (around 97% in the last 10 years) as they often go undefended. The result is that the company is removed from the register or is ordered to change its name. If undefended, the process usually takes around 2 months.

We hope however that with the advent of the Companies House Reforms and the promised “stronger checks on company names”, the Registrar is more likely to actively refuse company names similar to pre-existing ones and as a result these distressing instances will occur less frequently.

Madeleine Rhodes mRhodes@redfernlegal.com