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How can I find out if a business name is trade marked?

How can I find out if a business name is trade marked?

Despite the pandemic and several national lockdowns, 2020 saw a record number of around 407,510 new businesses open in the UK. As we progress through 2021 and things are starting to open up once more it is likely that this trend will continue.

One important decision for start-ups is choosing a business name. A strong business name can help to build a brand, differentiate your business from competitors and tell customers what to expect from your product. Conversely, a bad business name can lead to confusion for your customers or even legal issues, if the chosen name is too similar to a business name that already exists. Checking to make sure that a chosen business name is not already in use elsewhere in the market is a vital step all new businesses should take.

Choosing a business name is not only an important choice from a brand reputation perspective but  from an intellectual property perspective too. A failure to carry out the necessary due diligence on a desired business name before creating a company can lead to costly and time consuming litigation or legal fees further down the road, should another business have a pre-registered right or interest in that name. If a business name needs to be changed as a result of any intellectual property infringement this can lead to additional costs in terms of marketing and companies house fees.

Some of the biggest companies in the world have fallen foul of trade mark battles due to a failure to conduct proper research of any potential conflicts at an early stage. A famous example of this was when the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was forced to change its name following a 13 year legal battle with the World Wildlife Fund (also WWF), who did not want any ‘unsavoury’ connection or confusion between its brand and professional wrestling. A more recent example came in the Major Soccer League (MLS) when David Beckham- backed Inter Miami became embroiled in a trade mark dispute with Italian club Inter Milan regarding use of the word ‘Inter’, in the United States, where Inter Milan claims to have a prior right. Discussions are on-going between the two parties but the outcome could have repercussions on football clubs the world over.

If you are a new business and would like to check whether your chosen brand or business name is already in use please get in touch with one of our experts who will be able to assist you. Depending on your business and trade mark needs, brand clearance can range from a UK registered trade mark search to comprehensive international searches of trade mark registries and the unregistered landscape but could help you save money in the long run and provide you with peace of mind regarding your choice of business name or brand. 

Call us on 03330 430350 to find out more about our search services or to start a search. Or make an enquiry online and one of our Trade Mark Agency team will contact you.

About the author

Kirsty Stewart
Kirsty Stewart

Kirsty Stewart

Legal Director & Trade Mark Attorney

Intellectual Property, Trade Marks

For more information, contact Kirsty Stewart on +44 1382 346807.