A company cannot have the same registered company name as an existing company already listed at Companies House. Company name applications deemed to be the ‘same as’, or ‘too similar’ to an existing name will be rejected by Companies House. These rules exist to protect the general public from being misled by companies.
What are the ‘same name’ and ‘too similar’ rules
The Companies Act 2006 provides Companies House with the power to judge whether a proposed company name is the ‘same as’ or ‘too similar’ to an existing company name. Where it is, they can reject the name application.
The ‘same name’ rules do not mean the company name has to be identical to an existing one to be rejected, as certain words, expressions, signs and symbols intended to differentiate a potential company name from another one, may be disregarded due to being considered insufficient to distinguish the name from another one.
For example, ‘The Baking Company Ltd’ and ‘Baking Company Ltd’ will be deemed the same, as the word ‘The’ is disregarded to avoid confusing the general public. A full list of what’s disregarded by Companies House can be found on the Gov.uk’s Incorporation and Names webpage.
Companies House will also reject applications where they deem a name to be ‘too similar’ to an existing name. For example, ‘Easy Cooking For You Ltd’ may be deemed the too similar to ‘Easy Cooking 4U Ltd’.
What if a company already has the same name as another company?
Companies House occasionally makes mistakes and allow a company with a similar or same name to be registered. In such cases, Companies House has the power to direct the company to change the name that breaches the ‘same as’ or ‘similar’ name rules, despite previously having accepted it.
Are there any circumstances when I can use the same name as another company?
The ‘same as’ rules may be waived by Companies House if the proposed company name is to be part of the same group as the existing company, and if the application to Companies House includes a letter from the existing company, confirming its consent to the registration of the proposed name, and that it will form part of the same group.
How do I check if the company name I want is already taken?
To check if a company name you wish to use is already taken, you should use our website name-checker. Our name-checker tool will help you establish if the company name you want is available for use, or if it is already taken and listed on the Companies House register.
If your company name is already taken, consider a business (or trading) name
A business / trading name, is a name a company uses which differs from their registered company name. It does not have to be listed at Companies House on the public record and it is not subject to the ‘same as’ rules.
You can use as many business / trading names as you want, but you should be careful not to choose the same name as a registered company name in the same industry, as this could be deemed as ‘passing off’, which means you are taking advantage a company’s goodwill and trust. Passing off may lead to civil court proceedings being taken against your company for misrepresentation.
Similarly, you should also take care not to infringe any registered trademarks when choosing a business name and so it is advisable to search the registered trademarks beforehand.