Journal Article

The UK Company Names Adjudicators: success for brand owners?

David Stone and Lisa Ritchie

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 6, issue 5, pages 339-346
Published in print May 2011 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online May 2011 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI:
The UK Company Names Adjudicators: success for brand owners?

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  • Arbitration
  • Intellectual Property Law


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Legal context

The Company Names Adjudicators (“CNAs”) commenced work on 1 October 2008 when Section 69 of the Companies Act 2006 (the “Act”) came into force. The CNAs offer rights owners an avenue to cancel the registration of a company name which is the same as, or similar to, a name in which they have goodwill. The CNAs provide a much faster, stronger and cheaper way to cancel a company name than the previous requirement of court proceedings.

Key points

In the two years since beginning operation, the CNAs have issued 131 decisions including two fully reasoned defended applications. This article gives an overview of the evolving law and practice under the CNAs, before discussing key lessons, potential limitations and pitfalls of CNA proceedings revealed in the first two years of operation.

Practical significance

The CNAs are a significant improvement for rights owners over the previous law relating to company names. Section 69 provides a quick, easy and comparatively cheap solution: undefended applications have excellent prospects of success. Some decisions display a worrying interventionalism by the CNAs. Notwithstanding, the CNAs should be considered by rights owners as a new arrow to the quiver of IP protection in the United Kingdom and a company names watch service is now recommended.

Journal Article.  5711 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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