Choose and protect your brand identity
How do I choose a name and brand?
You can either create a name yourself, or you can choose a branding consultant to help you to select a name and develop a brand. If you require contact details for a branding consultant, please contact us.
How do I check whether my chosen name is available?
Before launching a new hedge funds business, it is extremely important to ensure that the names or trade marks you propose to use for your management business and funds do not overlap with existing names which are in use or registered trade marks.
It can be a very costly and disruptive exercise to undergo a change in branding if you discover after you have launched that earlier trade marks exist that are similar to your chosen name.
In order to ensure that your brand identity is not vulnerable to claims of trademark infringement or passing off, you should at a minimum:
- search for your proposed name using an internet search engine. This should provide an immediate indication as to whether your chosen name is already in use and what sort of business is using it (note that even where a business using the name is operating in a different space, this could still be a problem)
- carry out a search of Companies House using the WebCheck service. You should also refer to the Companies House publication Incorporation and Names which gives useful guidance on acceptable names, and
- instruct a trade mark search to be carried out to check for registered trade marks applicable to the UK and any other territories where the name will or may in the future be used - although trade mark registries are accessible online the scope of trade mark rights is a highly technical issue so it is not safe to proceed without taking expert advice on this issue - Simmons & Simmons has a top-rated team of trade mark and brand protection specialists who will be pleased to advise.
If you wish to name your funds and your investment management business entities consistently, you should also consider carrying out a check of any relevant registers in the country in which your fund entities will be domiciled, to ensure that your chosen fund names are available for use.
It is equally as important to determine what other businesses are using or have trade marks registered for your proposed name or similar names. What counts as "similar" in connection with trade marks and passing off can be wider than might be expected, and, as indicated above, the rights which third parties may have to prevent use of names similar to theirs may also extend much further than is readily apparent - in some circumstances owners of rights in entirely different sectors can prevent use of a name for a fund or a related entity.
Do I need to protect against others using the name and brand I have chosen?
You should also ensure that your name and reputation are not appropriated by others to your detriment in the jurisdictions in which you wish to operate.
It is therefore highly advisable to protect your business’s trading name(s) (including fund names) against third party use, through trade mark registrations in appropriate jurisdictions. A trade mark can consist of the distinctive element of the name of a fund or business, a trading name, a logo, or a combination of any of these. It could, for example, be applied to the business’s website and/or any related materials acting as a means of identifying the website as that of the fund manager, and distinguishing it from any other similar sites. As with trade marks searches, you should obtain professional assistance to apply for trade mark registrations. Simmons & Simmons's brands team (which includes experienced trade mark attorneys) looks after some of the world's most famous and valuable trade marks and is equally experienced in advising businesses on the adoption of new marks and handling trade mark applications to protect the same on a cost-effective, fixed fee basis. Our tax team can also advise on the ownership of trade marks and other IP within your management business, to maximise potential efficiencies.
Should you wish to discuss these issues in further detail, please contact a member of the LaunchPlus: UK team.
This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.