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