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What legal actions can be taken against a company that uses manipulative naming tactics, such as including the word 'All' in its name, in order to mislead or confuse customers?

Are there any laws or regulations in place to prevent companies from using deceptive names or branding, and what can consumers do to protect themselves from such practices? For example:

AllFood Restaurant, AllBank

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    How is including the word "All" misleading? Is there a company in the Philippines (since that's the tag you used) named "All" such that a consumer is reasonably confused about whether "AllFood" is a restaurant associated with the company "All"? Or are you suggesting that "AllFood" is misleading because the restaurant does not carry literally every food dish in the world? Mar 16, 2023 at 1:32
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    If you're asking a question about legality, you need to be a bit more precise. In what way is the name confusing? Different businesses obviously choose names that are appealing to broader and/or more specific subsets of people depending on the business model. There are generally laws about choosing business names that are likely to lead reasonable customers to be confused because of similarities to existing companies (so you likely can't start a business "Amazon Foods" to compete with "Amazon"). But it's not clear whether that is what you are trying to show in your example. Mar 16, 2023 at 2:38
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    @L2_Paver So if "AllFood" and "AllBank" aren't examples of what you're talking about, what would be an example?
    – Sneftel
    Mar 16, 2023 at 12:32
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    While the question in general has an answer, those examples are in no way misleading. A better example might be,,, "Cell-phone-Repair" for a company that repairs not cellphones but phones in prison cells? but that isn't misleading really either. Computer-repair that repairs nails?
    – Trish
    Mar 16, 2023 at 12:47
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    I agree that the examples make it impossible to discern what you are talking about. The question makes absolutely no sense.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16, 2023 at 13:11

1 Answer 1

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Are there any laws or regulations in place to prevent companies from using deceptive names or branding?

Yes.

The applicable legislation may be found in the Companies Act 2006.

Section 1198 states that:

(1) A person must not carry on business in the United Kingdom under a name that gives so misleading an indication of the nature of the activities of the business as to be likely to cause harm to the public

(2) A person who uses a name in contravention of this section commits an offence.

[...]

Also a further provision at Section 54 states that:

(1) The approval of the Secretary of State is required for a company to be registered under this Act by a name that would be likely to give the impression that the company is connected with—

  • (a) Her (sic) Majesty's Government, any part of the Scottish administration, the Welsh Assembly Government or Her Majesty's Government in Northern Ireland,

  • (b) a local authority, or

  • (c) any public authority specified for the purposes of this section by regulations made by the Secretary of State.

[...]

The Regulations referred to above are the Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 which lists, at Schedule 1, a host of words and expressions that are prohibited or require approval as the case may be.

This list is far too long to reproduce in full, but by way of example it includes:

Bank

Charity

Child support

Police

Royal

Stock exchange

University

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    Although tagged philippines, I have answered in line with: we expect and encourage answers dealing with other jurisdictions ... please tag your answer using the tag markdown: [tag: some-tag]". From the Help centre
    – user35069
    Mar 16, 2023 at 11:52
  • So.... "Bank Charity to support University for Children of Royal Police Officers", even if fully accurate that they are a charity by the banks to support university for children of royal police officers, would be banned?!
    – Trish
    Mar 16, 2023 at 12:57
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    Of course, the Interpretation Act 1978 means that references to "Her Majesty" don't have to be amended. @Trish Such a charity would need (and may even receive) Section 54 approval from the Secretary of State. But they are more likely to be explicit in their charitable objects and have a less unwieldy name, I think! Mar 16, 2023 at 13:16

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