New provisions relating to business names where introduced by the Companies Act 2006 to govern their usage and disclosure requirements applicable to them.
A business name is a title, word or phase used by a commercial entity which is not identical to the name of the person or people carrying on that activity.
Checking Existing Business Names
As there is no requirement to register a business name with a regulatory body, there is no definitive list of them by which a person can perform a check.
Taking reasonable steps such as consulting with a legal expert and reviewing local directories might provide some assurances that the proposed name will not violate any existing rights enjoyed by a another business.
Sensitive Business Names
Some business names have been judged to be sensitive and have restrictions in place over their use.
The general rule is that names which might potentially portray the organisation in a light which is material different from its actual size or status are likely to carry some additional criteria and tests before they can be employed.
The Companies Act 2006 lists three groups of sensitive names which would require approval either from the Secretary of State or from another regulatory organisation.
The first group contains words such as International, British and Federation. These names commonly have both size and status connotations associated with them.
The second group relates mostly to words frequently used to describe a professional person or activity. They include Contact Lenses, Nurse and Police.
The third category consists of names such as Optician, Chiropodist and Physiotherapists which are sensitive professions.