By Lyndsey Hall
In the past twelve months, almost fifty business names have been rejected by Companies House for being potentially offensive.
The proposed names included Titanic Holdings Limited and Fanny’s Kebabs Ltd. Some of the names may have been permitted later after justification was submitted and accepted. Proposed name records are only kept for one year, the most recent list was obtained by BBC Wales under the Freedom of Information Act.
A Companies House spokesperson said it was important that the register was not abused by recording offensive names. “The index of company names is a publicly available statutory register and it’s important that it is not abused by being used to register offensive names.”
“A company must not be registered by a name if, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, its use by the company would be offensive. The register acts on behalf of the Secretary of State and in forming that opinion considers whether a name would be offensive in any way to the public.”
Other names on the rejected list included Dapper Dog and Stylish Bitch Ltd, and Sod It Systems Limited, but some were later successfully registered.
There are over one hundred sensitive words and expressions that require the prior approval of the Secretary of State to use in a company or business name. These include benevolent, Britain/British, commission, licencing, standards and Windsor. Guidance is also given on words and expressions that could imply a connection with a government department, a devolved administration or a local or specified public authority. Use of some other words and expressions in a company or business name could be a criminal offence if used incorrectly, including architect, building society, credit union, physician, solicitor and surgeon.
Companies hoping to include the word Sheffield in their business name must apply to the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire before using the name, as it has become so synonymous with steel and the Made in Sheffield brand is a well-known hallmark of quality.
You can view the full list of sensitive words here.
More than 3.5m limited companies are registered in the UK, with around 500,000 new companies added each year. Company registrations for England and Wales are carried out in Cardiff, while registrations for Scotland and Northern Ireland are carried out in Edinburgh and Belfast. Companies House’s main responsibilities are to incorporate and dissolve limited companies, examine and store company information and make information available to the public.
Do you think the rules for naming your business are too strict, or do you agree with Companies House’s stance on offensive business names? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.