Don’t be caught out by fake business registers!

Have you ever registered your business name on a so called ‘legally protected business register’?

The government has recently warned that many people have received unsolicited invitations from companies offering services to help them protect their business or trade name in return for a fee.

These invitations are often official-looking and many people feel obliged to register with them to protect their business name. The fees are greatly in excess of official fees. There is usually a register, but sadly that register has no legal status whatsoever. It is merely a list. Often the small print on the invoice will say this, but once fees are paid it is too late.

There are sadly many companies purporting to be official UK company directories/registers. Companies House is the only official register for companies. It is a reliable and legitimate register of information regarding all registered companies in the UK. A company registered with any another “register” will not be considered a registered company.

If you are concerned about someone copying your trade name or logo, you should consider protecting it as a registered trade mark. Please be aware that the only official place to register a trade mark in the UK is via the Intellectual Property Office. The Intellectual Property Office has recently taken action against companies such as “Patent and Trademark Office” and “Trade Mark Renewal Service Ltd”, who were sending businesses letters telling them to renew their trade marks.

The Intellectual Property Office is the only official body which can issue a reminder to renew a UK trade mark. If you receive a reminder to renew your trade mark it will look like this:

IPO

If you receive a misleading invoice the Intellectual Property Office would like you to let them know. Contact them at: misleadinginvoices@ipo.gov.uk.

Additionally, there is no official register for copyright protection. Copyright works are protected simply because they are copyright works, without any need to undergo formal registration. Websites offering registration of your copyright will be a scam website and will not have any legal standing.

So, if in doubt please contact Companies House or the Intellectual Property Office, or seek the advice of a solicitor. It may save you unnecessary costs. The Student Law Office has advised clients in the past on this issue – please see this page for more details of our free service.

This blog post was brought to you by Alex Tomlinson and Bethanny Bamber.

Alex (left) and Bethanny (right) are both currently studying the MLaw degree at Northumbria University and are working in a Business & Commercial firm within the Student Law Office. In the future, Alex plans to secure a training contract and hopes to specialise in intellectual property. Bethanny has recently been offered a training contract in the consumer litigation department of a high street firm in Carlisle.

AlexBeth