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Can I use any business name I want?

There are some restrictions on which business names you can use.  For example:

  • You cannot use a business name containing Limited or Ltd to imply that your business is a company (unless your business actually is a company or limited liability partnership).
  • You cannot use offensive words.
  • You need permission to use various sensitive words such as British, Royal and Chartered.

You can get more detailed information on the restrictions from your legal adviser or from Companies House.

More broadly, you need to be careful about using any business name that is similar to one already being used by another business — for example, as their company name, as a trade mark or as a website domain name — particularly if they offer similar products or services to you. If the other business feels that you are trying to take advantage of their reputation, they may bring a legal action against you for ‘passing off’.

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