Trading names are protected by trademarks law. Companies, sole traders and partnerships can register names at the Trade Marks Registry on payment of relevant fees. This can prevent others from using the same or a similar name in a confusing manner. Trademarks are either UK, Community (EU-wide) trademarks, or foreign trademarks. Until the UK leaves the EU after 2019, it will continue to be possible to register an EU-wide trademark (previously called a “Community Trademark” (CTM)) which includes the territory of the UK as well as the other 27 EU Member States.

Companies can register internet domain names. Company names can be registered at Companies House, but this does not provide trademark protection. Finally, the tort of passing off gives some protection for unregistered trademarks, but this is not as useful as for registered marks.

This topic explains how to register a trademark, the circumstances in which they can be revoked and their unauthorised use.

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