Trading Names, Business Registration and Intellectual Property

This Content Was Last Updated on March 10, 2024 by Jessica Garbett


Registration – and Beware of Scams

If you are trading as a Sole Trader or a Partnership then there is no need to register a business name, eg Jackie Smith t/a Jackies Yoga requires no registration legally.

It is worth being aware there is no official register of business names in the UK any more.  Unfortunately this is a rich area of picking for scams, with seemingly official websites and spam email purporting to ask for “annual registration fees” – ignore these, they have no validity and a scam.

If you trade as a Company or LLP then you need to have that name registered at Companies House.

Of course that doesn’t mean there is a free for all.  You need to think about domain registration and social media handles, and arguably they now acts as a defacto register of business names.


Passing Off

Another significant issue is “passing off”, that is to say confusing your business with another.  Its a fraught area of law, but thankfully one which doesn’t often cause an issue.

Passing off would be a problem if you called your business “Harrods Yoga”, especially if you used a stylised green font, even if you aren’t a retailer in Knightsbridge; here the issue is trading off someone elses brand. Indeed “Harolds Yoga” with the same styling would be a problem if the aforementioned store got to learn of it.

If you call yourself something more generic, eg “Sunrise Yoga” then passing off could be a issue if there is another yoga business close to you with the same name, and thus causing potential public confusion. However is unlikely to be an issue if the two businesses are some distance apart and branding is not similar.  Likewise if you are “Sunrise Yoga” and “Sunrise Gym” is just around the corner, there could be issues.

Using your own name is never likely to be an issue, so even if there are two “Fredas Yoga” in town, then if you are both called Freda then there is unlikely to be an issue, unless one intentionally copies the logos and style of another.

Passing off can only be addressed through legal action and ultimately court, so it tends to be those with deep pockets who enforce trade names and brands.

Generally, if you are setting up a business, and using a trading name, then a google search for other businesses using the same name is a good start, and will alert you to other businesses using the same name.


Copyright, Trade Marks and Patents

Trademarks and Patents can both be registered, but for most yoga teachers won’t be an issue – you need something unique and novel to be registered.

There is no official register for Copyright, again its enforceable through legal action, although asserting copyright in anything you publish is sensible.