On August 17, 2011, a package of new legislation that
establishes the new National Business Names registration system was
introduced to Federal Parliament.
Any person or other legal entity carrying on a business in
Australia will be affected by the new system and its changes.
What is the current system for the registration of a business
Currently, you need to register your business name separately in
each state and territory in which you trade (unless you operate the
business under your personal or company name). Different
legislation, processes, fees and periods relating to the
registration are applicable, which make the system of registration
non-uniform, complicated and expensive for businesses.
What is the new system and what does it change?
The new system, to be operational from mid next year, will be
national: rather than registering a business name in each state and
territory, you will be able to register your business name on a
single national database.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission
(ASIC) will manage and administer the new national
Other practical key features of the new legislation are:
The business name can be registered for a period of one year
(the registration fees amount to $30) or three years (the
registration fees amount to $70)
Applicants need to have an Australian business number or be in
the process of applying for an ABN and not have been refused an ABN
to register the business name
There will be a single integrated online registration process
for the business name and the ABN
Any decision by ASIC will be reviewable on application to ASIC
or the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal by the applicant
or any person in relation to whom there is a real risk of
substantial detriment due to the registration of the business
What will happen to my existing business name?
If you already have a registered business name under a State or
Territory, your business name will automatically be transferred to
the national register at the introduction of the new system (this
process is called "grand-fathering"). If your business
name has been registered in several States or Territories, these
will be consolidated into one registration. Moreover, if some
identical business names have been registered by different owners
in different jurisdictions, ASIC will insert a distinguishing mark
or expression on the register; therefore you won't have to
change your business name.
If your registration is due for renewal before the introduction
of the new system, you must comply with the current system and
apply for renewal in the different States and Territories you are
trading in. If this renewal has to be completed after the
introduction of the new system, you will be able to make one
application to ASIC to cover all of Australia.
What do businesses need to do now?
If you want to register a business name, once the new system is
in place, you will be able to apply simultaneously for a business
name and an ABN at www.abr.gov.au, with in most
cases an immediate confirmation or rejection of the business name
It is relevant to note that the current prohibitions for
registration of a business name will continue under the new system.
It is prohibited to register names which are "identical or
nearly identical" to another business, which have already been
registered, which are likely to be offensive, or which are likely
to mislead or deceive consumers and traders. An automated test to
determine registrable names will be available online in order to
avoid these situations.
As these prohibitions will exist on a national level with the
introduction of the new system, if you are contemplating a start up
business, you should move quickly now to register your preferred
business name in the jurisdiction in which you plan to trade in
order to avoid the situation where your business name application
will be refused in the new system because the same name has already
been chosen in another jurisdiction before the commencement of the
However you should also note that the new system –
like the current system, does not make the registrant the owner of
the business name: you must apply separately for a trademark
registration to give you proprietary rights in the name.
If you have any queries or concerns in relation to the above,
please contact Hunt & Hunt.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
We discuss whether certain clauses commonly found in ordinary commercial contracts could be considered to be penalties.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).