Introduction to this document

Passing off letter

What can you do if you discover that another business is using either the same or a similar name to your own? In order to protect your name, use our letter to send as an opening shot, in the hope that litigation can be provided.


If another business tries to pinch your name, this is known as “passing off”, i.e. a third party is trying to pass themselves off as being your business with the aim of trying to take advantage of your goodwill.

Something in common

In order to get anywhere with your claim, you must be able to show that they are in the same line of business as you are. It will help too if they’re in the same area, e.g. same town, city etc. This is because unless your business has a national reputation, it’s highly likely that your goodwill only extends to the locality where you trade.


As well as demonstrating that you’re in the same or similar field of business, you also must be able to prove that your customers are being misled, i.e. they’re using the rival business thinking that it’s something to do with your business. Getting statements from your customers to this effect is therefore vital.

Another business using your name as their domain name might not amount to passing off. Domain names are allocated on a “first come, first served” basis and as long as the rival business is actually trading and not simply “cyber squatting” then it may be difficult to take further action. As a first port of call, any dispute regarding a domain name should be referred to the registration body which allocated the name, e.g. Nominet -