It is a common misconception that registering a company name with the Companies House provides unrestricted rights to such company name. In reality, the registered company name identifies a legal entity and only prevents third parties from registering companies with the identical or very closely similar names. However, third parties are still free to use the same/similar company name as a brand to provide goods and services.
If you would like to secure monopoly over the brand name in the UK, you need to register a trade mark at the UK Intellectual Property Office. Once the trade mark is registered, you will be able to stop third parties from using your trade mark to provide the same or similar goods and services as you do.
Another difference between company names and trade marks, is that you can use a trade mark to stop third parties from registering companies under a name identical or highly similar to your trade mark in certain circumstances, namely where a company name is either
1) identical to the brand name in which the brand owner enjoys goodwill or reputation in the UK or
2) sufficiently similar to the brand name and its use in the UK is likely to mislead the public by suggesting a connection between the registered company and the brand owner.
It is often wrongly believed that obtaining trade mark registration automatically prevents third parties from making similar or identical trade mark applications, using the brand in trade or registering a company with the same name. However, in practice it is left to the trade mark owner to police and defend their rights.
If you become aware of the company name registration that is identical or highly similar to your trade mark in which you have acquired reputation, it is recommended to take action. It is a relatively inexpensive and speedy procedure, and if you invested in protecting your brand, it is necessary to defend it to maintain its value and strength. If you do nothing, the scope of protections of your trade mark will eventually dilute over time.
Briffa, being expert in all aspects intellectual property law and practice, will be happy to help you put a trade mark protection strategy in place. If you would like to discuss protection of your brand, please drop us an email or give us a call and we will be happy to arrange a free consultation with one of our specialist IP lawyers.
Written by Anastasia Troshkova – Associate
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