The 10 Most Common Pitfalls in Business Name Availability Checking and How To Avoid Them
Selecting a business name is a crucial step for any new business in the UK. It’s not just a matter of finding a catchy and memorable name; it’s also about ensuring that the name is legally available and does not infringe on existing trademarks or business entities.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs make common mistakes during this process, potentially leading to legal complications or branding challenges. Here’s a look at the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
One of the most common mistakes is not conducting a thorough search for the business name. Relying solely on a quick Google search or a cursory glance through the Companies House website isn’t enough.
How to Avoid: Utilise multiple platforms for your search. The Companies House WebCheck service is where many start. See if the name is already registered. Please bear in mind that sole traders and registered brands are often not on Companies House. So, using a search tool from Start.Biz may give you more rounded research as this also checks domains and their internal register of businesses with protected names as well as Companies House.
A check the UK Intellectual Property Office to ensure there are no existing trademarks on your proposed name. If you aren’t confident at doing this yourself agencies like National Business register can do this for you and produce a report so you are clear on what has been registered as a trade mark and any likely infringements. Don’t forget to search social media too.
2. Ignoring Similar Names
Another mistake is ignoring names that are similar but not identical to the one you’ve chosen. Even if the exact name isn’t taken, a similar name can still lead to confusion and potential legal issues, especially if it’s in the same industry. A small tweak of a name will still be allowed at Companies House, it will only prevent the exact same name being taken.
How to Avoid: Look for and consider variations of your desired name during your search. Pay attention to similar sounding names, homophones, or names with slight spelling differences. This will help you gauge the risk of potential confusion or infringement.
3. Overlooking International Implications
If you have ambitions to take your business global, failing to consider the international implications of your business name can be a misstep. A name that works well in the UK might have unintended meanings or connotations in other languages or cultures.
How to Avoid: Conduct international research if you plan to operate globally. This includes checking the name’s meaning in different languages and cultures, especially in markets you intend to enter.
4. Disregarding Domain Name Availability
In today’s digital age, having an online presence is essential. A common oversight is choosing a business name without checking if the corresponding domain name is available.
How to Avoid: Check the availability of your desired business name as a domain name early in the process. Remember, having a domain name that matches your business name is crucial for brand consistency and online presence. The search tool Start.Biz have is free and checks domains at the same time as Companies House and their internal list of protected business names.
5. Assuming Name Availability Equals Legal Clearance
Just because a name is available does not mean it’s legally clear for use. There might be existing trademarks or intellectual property rights associated with the name.
How to Avoid: In addition to checking name availability, conduct a thorough trademark search. This includes existing trademarks and pending applications that might conflict with your chosen name. You can attempt this yourselves using the IPO website or agencies like National Business Register also offer this service and provide you with a detailed report explaining the position.
6. Not Considering Future Growth
Choosing a name that’s too narrow or specific can limit your business’s future growth and expansion possibilities.
How to Avoid: Select a name that is broad enough to encompass potential future business expansions or diversifications. Avoid overly specific geographic or product-based names unless they are central to your long-term strategy.
7. Neglecting Cultural Sensitivity
A name that is catchy or humorous in one context might be offensive or inappropriate in another. Cultural insensitivity can harm your brand’s reputation.
How to Avoid: Ensure that the name is culturally sensitive and appropriate. This may involve consulting with cultural experts or conducting market research to understand how the name might be perceived in different contexts.
8. Not Seeking Professional Advice
Navigating the complexities of business name registration can be daunting and going it alone can lead to oversights.
How to Avoid: Consider consulting with legal experts or business advisors. They can provide insights on compliance, trademark issues, and effective branding strategies.
How to Avoid: Search for your proposed business name on major social media platforms. It’s important to have a consistent name across these platforms for brand recognition.
10. Rushing the Decision
Finally, rushing the decision of choosing a business name can lead to regrettable choices. A business name is a long-term decision and should be made with careful consideration.
How to Avoid: Take your time with the decision. Conduct thorough research, gather feedback, and consider all aspects of the name in relation to your business goals and strategies.
Avoiding these common mistakes when checking for business name availability can save you from future legal headaches and branding confusions. A careful, well-researched approach not only ensures legal compliance but also sets a strong foundation for your brand’s identity and success in the competitive UK market.
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