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A copyright cannot protect individual names, phrases or titles as these could be duplicated in error. As such, a business name wouldn’t be given copyright protection in its own right. A copyright is used for work which has been recorded, like a book or film or music. If a business name identifies the goods or service provided by a company, a trademark could be applied for.

A trademark is viewed as a company badge creating distinction from other companies. Trademarks are Intellectual Property and as such play an integral role in branding and marketing activities. To register your company name as a trademark, the name should not mislead people about the services or goods supplied by your company. Although a distinctive trademark which unmistakeably represents your company may have some protection in common law, it would be difficult and expensive to prove infringement.

A company should be able to represent the company name in words and pictures if the name is to be registered as a trademark in the UK. Although you have to pay to register your business name as a trademark, registration provides assurance that the trademark belongs to your company and to use the registered trademark symbol.

Taking legal action against anyone who uses the trademark without permission is much easier when you register for a trademark and can deter others from using it without consent. To register a trademark in the UK, you must apply to the Intellectual Property Office, either online or by post.

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