Occasionally, you may be required to change your company name by law, even after it is already incorporated. This may happen if your chosen name is “too like” another in existence, or rules have been violated.
If you are found to have provided misleading information at the time of incorporation or the company’s activities are misleading, this can also lead to a compulsory name change being required.
Another circumstance in which a company might be required to change its name after incorporation is in cases where a company has been permitted to omit the “Limited” from its name, but now no longer has justification for doing so.
In cases where Companies House believes that two company names are so similar its likely to confuse the public, they will ask the newest company to change its name.
Companies House provides the following examples:
Companies House will disregard some factors when deciding whether a name is “too like” another. For example, trademarks/patent infringements, disputes between directors, trading/business names, nature and location of the company’s activities, arguments over proprietary rights in the name, suggestions of passing off, suggestion of implied association and dormancy or non-trading status.
All “too like” objections should be addressed to the Secretary of State and delivered to Companies House in time to allow for any necessary direction to be issued within 12 months of a company’s incorporation. If a direction is issued to the affected company, it will be required to change its name within 12 weeks of the date of the direction.
These rules apply to any name which appears on the index of company names which includes companies, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), and other bodies, such as Limited Partnerships, overseas companies and Industrial Provident Societies.
When choosing a company name, you should check the index to ensure it will not result in an objection.
You may be asked to change your company name for other reasons. For example, the information you gave to support the use of a “sensitive word” in your company name was found to be misleading.
You may also encounter issues if Companies House finds that the name of company gives so misleading an indication of the company’s activities that it could cause harm to the public.