Simply registering your business name with ASIC DOES NOT give you any proprietary rights for that name – another business or competitor can still use your name in their advertising. The only way to protect your business name (as well as your other intellectual property such as logos etc) is by registering a trademark.

Furthermore, it is an offence to use a business name (other than your own or a partner’s personal name) without registering it.

Jim Wilson, Principal of Wilson Haynes – solicitors, conveyancers and business advisors – said: “When starting up a new business it is imperative to both register the business name AND apply for trademarks for the business name and any other intellectual property of the business such as logos. Failure to register and apply for trademarks can lead to challenges from competitors and catastrophic losses to your new business at an early stage.

“Registration of business names and trademarks involves a number of procedural steps which, if followed, can usually be achieved painlessly and will prove to be prudent choice and a great investment for the future of your new business.”

Registering a business name involves:
1. A search to see if the name is available on the Business Names Register operated by ASIC – this is a free on-line service.
2. Registration – this is done on-line with ASIC and requires a valid ABN number.
3. Payment of prescribed fees.

It is also important to register a unique domain name which concurs with the registered business name and trademark if your business will use the internet. This involves:
1. A search for availability.
2. Registration – through an auDA accredited registrar.

Registering a business name and domain name does not however protect the name from use by competitors and other businesses, either in Australia or on-line or overseas. The only way to protect your name from use by others is to register your business name, logo and any other intellectual property (such as logos, designs etc) as trademarks.

If your business name is descriptive or generic in nature another business may have already registered a similar trademark. Therefore, careful consideration of business names, logos and descriptions is necessary at an early stage.

If another business is using your business name or intellectual property it is important to object as soon as you become aware of this – failure to do so can be interpreted as permission to use the IP and may affect your proprietary rights.

To talk to Jim Wilson about registering your business name, domain name or trademark call 07 5536 3055 extn 4.

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