We have written about the difference between business names and trade marks on our associated blog. Business names are separate from trade marks and you must register a business name if you are trading under a different name from you or your company’s name.
The Australian Federal Government has taken concrete steps towards reforming the way that business names are managed in Australia and has passed the Business Names Registration Act 2011 in November 2011. The Act establishes a National Business Names Register which will be administered by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, and will streamline and consolidate the various business name registration schemes in each state and territory.
The objectives of the reforms are to:
- Allow for online applications and registrations for business names and ABNs
- Provide an online database to allow ease of access and searching
- Streamline and consolidate the various schemes into one scheme
- Reduce costs
- Avoid confusion over similar names
- Determine if names are unsuitable or undesirable
The National Business Names Register is now live and can be found at ASIC’s website.
If you run a small businesses, you should carry out adequate due diligence before starting trade. One of the matters that you should check before starting trade is the name of your business or the name of your brand.
If you sell items or products under a brand name, you should also check if the name of your brand is similar to or would conflict with other products on the market. A thorough search of trade marks, brand names and business names should be carried out before settling on a name for your business or product.
You should also be mindful that a registered business name is not the same as a Trade Mark.
There is nothing worse than settling on a business or brand name and embarking on an extensive marketing project, only to receive a letter from a competitor saying that your business or brand name is similar to theirs. Failure to do the proper checks and searches may result in an expensive re-branding exercise.
If, after carrying out a careful search on trade marks and business names, you find that there are no similar sounding trade marks or business names, you should consider if the additional benefits of registering your business name or brand name as a trade mark.
Registering your business name or brand name as a trade mark can protect you from other people claiming that your mark is identical or similar to theirs. In addition to this, you may be able to stop others from using your registered trade mark.
It is always best to “look before you leap”, especially when it comes to these matters.