How to check your start-up name is original

What steps can you take to make sure the name is unique?

It is very important when you’re choosing a business name that you make sure that you can use that name. To spend money publishing stationery or setting up your website could be a terrible waste if another company with your prospective title already exists.

Making a few simple checks before you do any of this is a good idea. The Smarta website is one good way to do this: click on the link and see what’s available before choosing a business name.

However, as sole traders do not have to register with Companies House, they will not show up on this search. So you should also check local phone books, business directories and run some internet searches on your chosen name. You should also run a free search on the National Business Register website, which contains details of millions of UK sole traders.

If a sole trader at the other end of the country is using your name, this may not be a problem. However, if a local or national sole trader is using it you will have to go back to the drawing board.

You also need to check if your proposed name isn’t too similar to a name that someone else has registered as a trademark. The easiest way to do this is via the UK Trademark Register on the Intellectual Property Office website; again, simple checks now save time and money later on.

If you are setting up your own website, checking out available domain names is also well worth your time. Many companies have to pick a different name for their website than for their business. However, this is not the best scenario if your company is going to be web-based. You will need to go through an agent to get your domain, however as this is only a small fee it should be well within your means.

There are many company formation agents in the UK offering different packages and slightly different services. We’ve chosen to partner with Smarta, an approved e-filing partner of Companies House because they have successfully registered over 400,000 UK companies and we are impressed with their service, speed and value for money.

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