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Objections to company names


1. Could I have to change my company name after incorporation?

In general, a company can keep its registered name for ever. However a company can be required to change its name:

within 12 months of the adoption of the name, if the Secretary of State upholds an objection that a newly-adopted name is “too like” an already existing name or if the name was incorrectly registered because it is the ‘same as’ an existing company name. Any objection must be made in writing within 12 months of the date of the registration of the name. If such an objection is upheld, then the company must change its name as directed and deliver the required documents within 12 weeks of the date of the direction. Further information on ‘too like’ names is provided in question 3;


within 5 years of the company’s adoption of the name, if misleading information has been given for the purposes of registration by a particular name for example for the approval of a sensitive name;


within 5 years of the company’s adoption of the name, if an undertaking or assurance given at the time of registration, for example support for a sensitive name has not been fulfilled;


at any time, if the Company Names Adjudicator upholds an objection that the name is the same as one in which the objector has goodwill or is so similar to such a name that its use in the UK would be likely to suggest a connection between the company and the objector. Such an objection will be upheld if the objector shows that the main purpose in registering the name was to obtain money or other consideration from him or to prevent his registering the name. (It may also be upheld if none of certain other matters have happened or apply).
at any time, if the name gives so misleading an indication of the nature of its activities that it is likely to cause harm to the public;
at any time, if a company is no longer entitled to the exemption allowing it to omit “limited” or any of the permitted alternatives in its name.


2. What does 'too like' mean?

Any company that registers a name which is very similar (‘too like’) to an existing company name could be directed to change its name. When considering whether one company name is ‘too like’ an existing company name Companies House only considers the visible appearance or sound of the two names. We do not take into account external factors such as geographic location, trading activities, share ownership or whether a company is dormant. In addition we take no account of a name or part of a name that is a registered trade mark.

Normally, if the names differ by only a few characters or minor differences they are likely to be ‘too like’, for example, H & S Consultants Limited and H & S Consulting Limited. Most examples of ‘too like’ names also suggest a certain level of confusion.

If the names differ by one or more words, especially longer descriptive words they are unlikely to be ‘too like'. For example, an existing company, H & S Consultants Limited might justifiably complain that the registration of H & S Consultants (Cardiff) Limited is a cause of confusion. This might be the case but the names are not ‘too like’ under the Companies Act and we would be unlikely to issue a direction in these circumstances.

However, we would issue a direction if the names have substantial or very distinctive elements in common and differ only by the inclusion of meaning starved words such as “services” or “trading”.

3. How do I object to a name?

If you wish to object to a name, for example because its similarity to your company name may lead to confusion between companies, you must write to:

For companies incorporated in
England & Wales, write to: For companies incorporated in
Scotland, write to: For companies incorporated in
Northern Ireland, write to:
The Secretary of State
New Companies
Companies House
Crown Way
Cardiff CF14 3UZ

DX33050 Cardiff The Secretary of State
New Companies
Companies House
4th Floor
Edinburgh Quay 2
139 Fountainbridge
Edinburgh EH3 9FF
LP - 4 Edinburgh 2 (Legal Post) or
DX ED235 Edinburgh 1

Tel: +44 (0)303 1234 500 (national call rate)
Fax: 029 20380900

The Secretary of State
New Companies
Companies House
First Floor
Waterfront Plaza
8 Laganbank Road
Belfast
BT1 3BS

DX 481 N.R. Belfast 1
You should write to the appropriate registrar depending on where the company name you are objecting to was registered.

4. How are ‘too like’ objections dealt with?

We must receive objections within 12 months of a company’s incorporation (or change of name). If following an objection, we intend to direct a company to change its name we will write to the company to explain the nature of the objection and the limited scope for appeal. We will also inform the complainant of the action taken. If we reject the company’s appeal we will issue a direction requiring it to change its name within 12 weeks and also inform the complainant. If we accept the company’s appeal we will confirm this in writing to all parties.

5. Can Companies House reject a 'too like' name when a company files its application to register a company?

No. You can only make objections on grounds of ‘too like’ after Companies House has registered the company. We can only reject ‘same as’ names before registration. Not all potentially ‘too like’ names result in an objection.

To avoid the possibility of a ‘too like’ objection, we advise applicants to make a search of the Index of Company Names before they apply to form a company or change the name of an existing company. Having a 'too like' name could also result in:

confusion with other companies, which may have a poor filing or trading record;
a 'passing off' action under civil law; or
action for trade mark infringement.
We do not consult the Trade Marks Register when considering an application for a company name. Consequently, if there is a trade mark registration which is identical or similar to the company name you have chosen and you are in the same type of business you may face legal action for a trade mark infringement. For further advice, including how to search the trade marks register, contact the UK Intellectual Property at http://www.ipo.gov.uk

6. Objection on grounds of opportunistic registration

Any individual or company can apply to the Company Names Tribunal for a company to be directed to change its name if they can show that the name was chosen with the principal intention of seeking money from him or preventing him registering the name where it is one in which he has previously acquired reputation or goodwill.

The Company Names Tribunal (also known as the ‘Company Names Adjudicator’) is responsible for handling complaints about opportunistic registration. Further information, including application forms and contact information is available on their website. Please note, Companies House cannot deal with any complaints about opportunistic registration.