Offensive Words

It might sound obvious but another factor to consider when choosing your business name is whether it is likely to offend anyone. Unlike the regulations surrounding sensitive words and expressions, there are no explicit guidelines on the use of offensive words in company names. But using common sense will normally stop yours being rejected on these grounds.

Swear words

Business names with swear words in them will be rejected by Companies House. There have been instances of business names containing swear words in another language getting through the registration process. For example, a business putting forward the name ‘Merde Contracts Limited’ was approved, but it is a rare occurrence.

Sexual connotation

It gets a little more complicated with business names containing words that imply something sexual. Words that are explicitly sexual will be rejected but the existence of colloquialisms has resulted in numerous examples where names containing words that have a more implicit sexual connotation were approved. One was a tailoring firm in East London, which managed to get the name ‘Shirtlifter Ltd’ through the registration process despite the name being known in some circles as an offensive term of reference for homosexuals.

The phrase ‘doggy style’, widely understood to be the name of a sexual position was also included in the business name submitted by two separate companies and resulted in two different outcomes. ‘Doggy Style Grooming’, a company specialising in dog grooming, saw their registration rejected, whereas ‘Doggy Style Hot Dogs’, a hot dog vendor, had their registration approved.

Religious affiliation

Generally, Companies House doesn’t like business names that contain words with a religious affiliation. Unsuccessful attempts have been made to register companies with names containing the words ‘God’ or ‘Allah’. Interestingly though, as with swear words, there have been examples of business names being submitted that contain the word ‘God’ but in another language, being approved. ‘Dieu’ for instance, which is the French word for God, was successfully used in the business name ‘Dieu Limited’.

Companies House can use their discretion

Remember that all new business names are checked by staff at Companies House before they are registered as limited companies. They can use their discretion to reject a business name if they think it might offend people. They also respond to complaints received from the public, so even if it gets through it doesn’t mean that it’s immune to retrospective action. Give some thought to your name and assess whether there is any chance that it could be interpreted in such a way as to cause offence.