The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued guidance for businesses regarding their choice of trading name, with the aim of preventing firms from choosing names which could mislead customers about their commercial status.
The regulator has warned that the trading names chosen by some businesses give the impression that they are operating as charities or government agencies, when they are in fact commercial entities.
The use of terms such as ‘helpline’ and ‘debtline’ forms a focal point of the guidance, which advises that names used by a commercial enterprise should never mislead consumers who are looking for free, impartial advice or expertise.
In addition, the guidance highlights that a trading name should not mislead consumers regarding the services provided, the cost of the offering, the scale of the business including its geographical scope, and the relationship of the business to other organisations.
David Fisher of the OFT commented, ‘Businesses are free to choose trading names as long as they are not misleading or otherwise undesirable. For example, where they do not make clear the nature of a business or where it pretends to be something it is not’.