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Can I keep same trading name for my practice?

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I am looking to start my own practice in London, have already registered a company, but found out that there is another accountant who is using the same trading name and working in Sheffield. I will use a hypothetical name to explain further. I have the company registered in my name e.g. ABC Accountants Ltd, apparently he is practicing as sole trader (othewise i wouldnt have got the company registered) and has a website www.abcaccountants.com.

My question is can i use the same trading name being a registered company and with a domain available as www.abcaccountants.co.uk, if not then whats the way out.

Your kind guidance will be appreciated.

Thanks

Sid

Replies (25)

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By Tim Vane
04th Jul 2020 14:27

The chances are it's fine and there won't be any confusion if you are so distanced, but nobody on here can answer that for sure. You cannot infer that the other firm is a sole trader, since the trading name and company name might be entirely different. As an aside, for somebody setting out in practice you should really know all this as it is exactly the sort of thing that you will be expected to advise clients on.

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Replying to Tim Vane:
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By Paul Crowley
04th Jul 2020 14:32

Concur

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By Paul Crowley
04th Jul 2020 14:30

A shame the registry of business names was discontinued.
Add another word is easiest option as there could be holding out issues if existing trader ( who you definitely know about) cares about it.

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By Calculatorboy
04th Jul 2020 14:49

The business in Sheffield predates you so small risk of holding out action from him. Why not just put (London) in your Ltd co name or similar to distinguish it .?

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
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By [email protected]
06th Jul 2020 14:27

Thanks for your kind suggestion.

I am thinking on the same lines, as per suggestions received i think its wise to avoid using the same trade name.

Thanks

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By Paul Crowley
04th Jul 2020 14:57

What happens when someone googles the name and is looking for one firm but not the other?

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By [email protected]
04th Jul 2020 15:45

Thanks for kind replies, I appreciate that you took out time over the weekend to reply.

I will look for variation in name.

Thanks again

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Oaklea
By Chris.Mann
04th Jul 2020 16:25

You see, although London and Sheffield (set in God’s own country - Yorkshire), are miles apart, the world is like a village, when you least expect it.

If you’re just starting out, the last thing you need, is confusion.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
04th Jul 2020 18:25

You might want to tread carefully, although as Tim says the chances are it will be fine not least because of the distance between the two practices

However... a story...

A few years ago someone I knew ran a very successful accounting practice under the name of 'Easy Accounting'. Then one day out of the blue the owner received a letter from the solicitor of the airline 'Easy Jet'. It said that he was to stop using the name 'Easy Accounting' as people might think that the accounting firm was something to do with EasyJet. As he couldnt afford the legal fees needed to fight such a large company the owner of the accounting practice changed the name of his firm.

I always advise clients not to set up businesses with too similar names particularly companies that have been dissolved/struck off etc in case a creditor thinks its the same company in a different guise.

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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
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By [email protected]
04th Jul 2020 18:55

Thanks. For your kind reply.

But if i have the company registered then i shouldnt face any problem, will I? Also i did check the other firms business name isnt registered , its just the domain. If they are using unregistered name then isnt it my right to use the trade name as owner of the registered company.

Thanks

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Replying to [email protected]:
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By Paul Crowley
04th Jul 2020 21:29

You really need to understand the problems of passing off

Passing off is where a party deliberately or unintentionally offers goods or services as those of another business in a way that deceives the customer into believing that they are buying the goods or services of another party that they trust and are familiar with.20 Sep 2018

Passing Off Law | Advice | Intellectual Property | Harper James ...

Passing off
What is passing off?
Passing off is similar to trade mark infringement, but applies to protect unregistered rights associated with a particular business, its goods or services. Passing off actions can be brought in a wide range of situations, including to protect business names and features of “get-up” or “trade dress”.

The principle underlying the tort of passing off is that “A man is not to sell his own goods under the pretence that they are the goods of another man” (Perry v Truefitt (1842)).

In each case of passing off, the key issue is the danger of misrepresentation as to the origin of goods or services. If someone leads consumers to believe that their goods or services are connected with another business when they are not, they may give the other business grounds to sue for passing off.

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Replying to [email protected]:
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By Paul Crowley
04th Jul 2020 21:28

Quote:

Thanks. For your kind reply.

But if i have the company registered then i shouldnt face any problem, will I? Also i did check the other firms business name isnt registered , its just the domain. If they are using unregistered name then isnt it my right to use the trade name as owner of the registered company.

Thanks


This shows you completely failed to understand the the responder's gentle point in the correct direction
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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
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By Paul Crowley
04th Jul 2020 21:31

I have a clent who registed his company in the exact name of a dissolved company just days after first one went.
Genuinely without deliberate intent

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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
06th Jul 2020 09:42

Think I would have told the airline to GTF, in the UK distinct words like Easy /Save etc tend to be a bit moody in the "we own it" stakes, couple it with a travel/flying word yes, you might have issues, stand alone use with say accounting and I really doubt their chances of success.

I actually really doubt Easyjet would have pursued further unless they had really wanted to be seen picking on the little guy, not an appealing look once the papers/news get wind.

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Replying to DJKL:
Kitten
By Hazel Accounts
07th Jul 2020 10:28

Had a client with similar issue - their name was xxx Intel xxx (short for intelligence, but they were nothing to do with electronics, computing or tech in any way) and the Intel microchip people found them and threatened action. Client took legal advice and the advice was not to fight as these big companies get quite aggressive - you may well be right and may "win" but at what financial cost (you would have to pay the legal fees) not to mention the stress - client changed company name and used the rebrand as a marketing opportunity.

McDonalds have been in news a few times protecting the "Mc" and do pick on the small guy!

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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
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By towat
07th Jul 2020 10:03

Quote:

You might want to tread carefully, although as Tim says the chances are it will be fine not least because of the distance between the two practices

However... a story...

A few years ago someone I knew ran a very successful accounting practice under the name of 'Easy Accounting'. Then one day out of the blue the owner received a letter from the solicitor of the airline 'Easy Jet'. It said that he was to stop using the name 'Easy Accounting' as people might think that the accounting firm was something to do with EasyJet. As he couldnt afford the legal fees needed to fight such a large company the owner of the accounting practice changed the name of his firm.

I always advise clients not to set up businesses with too similar names particularly companies that have been dissolved/struck off etc in case a creditor thinks its the same company in a different guise.

See also Joe Lycett and Hugo Boss

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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
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By sammerchant
07th Jul 2020 11:31

Some years ago, there was a lady who opened a shop in Kent and called it " 'arrods".
The Knightsbridge store brought out their highly-paid learned friends and sent her a 'Cease and Desist' notice. She changed the name to "Not 'arrods" and there was nothing the store could do about it. It provided all with a good laugh!

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By [email protected]
07th Jul 2020 09:55

Sid, The only way to "own" the name is to register it as a trademark.
Just having a domain name and a company registered with Companies House does not guarantee that you will get to keep it if someone else registers the trademark before you. The UK operates a "first to register" rule so it doesn't matter who uses it first . It is the first to register it who is entitled to use it. Once you have registered it you can have a solicitor issue a cease and desist notice to whoever else is using it. Legal advice should be obtained on this. Accountants can give you a general view but you really should speak to a solicitor used to dealing with these matters.

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Replying to [email protected]:
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By PMS
07th Jul 2020 10:10

There is a stage in a trade mark application when existing users of the same or a similar name can oppose the application. If this is overlooked, it is still possible to apply for revocation of an existing trade mark after it has been registered, or to counterclaim for revocation as part of the defence against a claim for trade mark infringement, but this will, of course, be more difficult than opposing the application before the mark is registered.

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Replying to PMS:
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By [email protected]
07th Jul 2020 10:18

That is why I mentioned that legal advice is essential here.

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By PMS
07th Jul 2020 10:02

It's not possible to register two identical company names at Companies House. The Registrar can also require one company to change its company name if it is "too like" that of another company.

The Registrar will register any company name which is not identical to that of another company, but with an express warning that it may subsequently be necessary to change the name if an existing company complains it is too like" its own name and, more particularly, that it does not mean the name can be used without infringing trade mark rights or triggering a "passing off" claim from another business.

If someone else has registered an identical or similar name as a trade mark for the same or similar goods, someone who has registered the company name will not be able to use it without risking a claim for trade mark infringement if there is a "likelihood of confusion".

If there is no registered trade mark, there is still a risk of a "passing off" claim if another business can prove that it has established prior reputation and goodwill in the name, that the public will be misled into thinking that the two business are either the same or in some way related, and that the existing business will suffer (financial or reputational) damage as a result. This is harder to prove than trade mark infringement, but the risk cannot be discounted without careful comparison and examination of the facts.

The takeaway message is that proper research is required before choosing any trading name,. because registration at Companies House simply means there is no company already on the register with an identical corporate name. It offers no protection whatsoever against claims for trade mark or passing off which are triggered by the use of the name.

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Replying to PMS:
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By Rgab1947
07th Jul 2020 10:12

[quote=]

It's not possible to register two identical company names at Companies House. The Registrar can also require one company to change its company name if it is "too like" that of another company.

Not so!

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By pauljohnston
07th Jul 2020 10:09

Here is my experience.

Jennifer Addams raises a valid point one of my clients registered a company building houses. Then got a letter from a Racecourse suggesting that they were using abusing the use of "their" name. Despite being in different parts of the country. I suspect if the case went to court the Judge would throw it out with costs.

My company trades as Bourne Accountancy named after local river. There is a town in Herts called Bourne and from time to time we get calls for accounting services in this town. We very kindly tell the caller that we are near Gatwick and that stops the conversation.

Can I suggest that you contact the Sheffield firm and tell them that you both trade under the same name and that you have no interest in using their good name to promote your business. You may find that get get a nice reply or even a reciprocal agreement so that you refer Sheffield and area clients to them and they send London ones to you.

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By Rgab1947
07th Jul 2020 10:10

CH does not bother duplicated names if there is only 1 letter different. In other words CH helps fraud.

My company registered in 2006. Other company registers some 8 years later changing just 1 letter. The rest is exactly the same. The work they do? Financial consulting. I mean how close could you get with misrepresentation?

CH gives you 12 months to object. So if you are not monitoring the names constantly you will likely miss the 12 months deadline. Then nothing you can do.

Fortunately I have my web name.

So you can happily continue to use the name even do the same work and just hope 12 months go by after which its yours forever.

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By Andy Reeves
07th Jul 2020 12:57

My practice (est. 1947) has the same trading name as a practice in York (est. 1990). I only found this out when I went for the company name (in 2003) and they had already taken it, so I chose another name and trade as the old practice name. Neither firm would have known about the other until 2003, and would have been trading for several years by then.

The only issue that I have is that I sometimes get their intended emails as their domain is practicenameltd.co.uk, whereas mine does not have the ltd. I pass the emails on if I receive them.

In recent years, with clients not always being so local, this could have become an issue but, not being a d1ck, I wouldn't dream of taking action against the other accountant.

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