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I've been trying to figure out a name for my new videogame company - and just when I thought that I got the perfect idea, a quick google search shows me there is a small business in the UK with that name, but they are completely unrelated to videogames (they manufacture signs/adverts/etc).

If both companies work on completely unrelated industries, would they be able to share the same name?

And what if there are two companies from the same industry (videogames), but one is just a publisher and mine is just a developer?

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The name of a company is not necessarily a trademark, so you are conflating two different concepts: A company name is the legal identity of the company, like your name is for you. A brand is an advertising construct which identifies certain goods or services. For example, Microsoft is both a company name and a trademark while Windows is only a trademark.

Company names are regulated by whomever it is in your jurisdiction who is responsible for this: in Australia this is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). In general, within the same jurisdiction, you cannot have two company names that are the same. So, if you are not registering your company in the UK you should be fine.

Trademark is about protecting brands and ensuring that there is no scope for confusion by the consumer that your goods and services are theirs (and vice-versa). Generally, if there is no room for confusion there is no trademark infringement. E.g., if your brand is about software and theirs is about agriculture then this is probably OK. If you both make software but you are a game company and they make accounting software this might be OK too, or it might not.

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If you are not in the UK, then the name of a company in the UK is totally irrelevant. My own company (in the UK) has a name identical to the name of a company in the USA, there's no problem. (Should they try to make trouble, I'll tell them to **** off).

If you are in the UK, go to the companyhouse website (for non-UK people: Companyhouse is responsible for all the registrations of companies in the UK). You can search for similar company names, and they have published the rules what names they will accept. General rules, plus rules for similarities with existing company names. You can always try to register the company if you don't understand the rules, and either you succeed and you're fine, or you fail.

But all this goes by name only: It doesn't help if another company is in a different industry. On the other hand, if you try to register "Voldemort Videogames", it's unlikely that there is a company with that name in another industry. And it doesn't clash with "Voldemort Car Cleaning".

However, with "Voldemort" in the company name, you might have a trademark fight on your hands. And anyway, this is just about the company name, not about names for products. That's where trademarks come in.

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