05 November, 2019

How To Search For UK Registered Companies?

When it comes to doing your UK company registration with Companies House, there are certain rules and guidelines to know with your company name. Before going full steam ahead with your company formation, be sure to familiarise yourself with these and search for existing UK registered companies to ensure your brand is as unique as can be. Even names that sound alike (but are not the same) could cause problems down the road. 

One of the most famous and long-running legal disputes was between Apple Corps and Apple Inc. over trademark rights. So it just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how big you are - lawsuits can happen to anyone. It’s better to be safe than sorry with your company name, so doing a thorough search is essential. 

Here’s a step by step guide to checking UK registered companies online. 

Step 1 - check company name availability

The first thing you will want to do after brainstorming some company names is to check the availability. Through our company formation partner, Crunch, you can quickly do this from the convenience of your phone or laptop. They have helped over 10,000 limited companies get started and their easy search tool allows you to see what registered companies exist already in the UK.

With company formation starting from £10 (or free with our virtual office plans), setting up a business is affordable and easy. But don’t be tempted to rush into it. Your brand name is how your customers will perceive you, and the name needs to resonate with them. It needs to be memorable and relevant, and it also needs to be scalable for future growth or changes. 

Step 2 - check domain names

Step 1 and 2 can be interchangeable as both are extremely important when searching for registered businesses and their websites. With the best domain names becoming highly competitive, it can be a good idea to check domain names first. If your business is largely online, ensuring you have the right URL is essential. Although matching domain and company names aren’t mandatory, it’s recommended that they match for branding purposes. 

A matching domain name can also prevent any confusion with other similar-sounding businesses, helping to avoid problems or name disputes in the future. Not only that, but you’ll want to ensure your customers can find you, and not land on the site of another organisation. When searching for available domains, try to take .co.uk and .com (and other possible suffixes) so no-one else can use them. 

Step 3 - check for trademarks 

Another vital step when checking for existing UK registered companies is to scour the Trademark Register. This is a list of all the trademarks in the UK, so you can check if a similar trademark to your brand has been taken. You can search using keywords, phrases or images (or directly by trademark number), and you can also find out who owns certain trademarks. 

When choosing your name for limited company formation, you must not use any words that have been trademarked. This is key if you want to prevent legal issues down the line. So make sure you remember to check the register before you form. 

Step 4 - check reserved or sensitive words

After you have searched for existing company names, domain names and trademarks, you will want to double check your desired business name to ensure it adheres to all the rules. 

These rules include:

  • Your company name must not be offensive, contain abusive language or be illegal
  • Your company name must not include reserved or sensitive words unless there is justification or relevance to your business

Special restrictions imposed by Companies House mean that there are certain words that cannot be used, unless you have clearance to do so. The list of reserved and sensitive words include things like ‘British’, ‘Bank’, ‘Chartered’, ‘Commission’, ‘English’, ‘Scottish’, ‘Wales’, ‘King’, ‘Royal’ and so on. The reason for these restrictions is to prevent small companies trying to portray official or government bodies, or businesses that are linked to certain professional endorsement or accreditation. 

For instance, only real chartered accountants would be able to use the word ‘chartered’ in its title. So make sure you can prove your credentials if you are planning to go ahead with your UK company registration using a sensitive word. 

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