Introduced into parliament on 17 August 2011, the Business
Names Registration Bill2011 has now been passed,
ratifying a legislative scheme to enable the national registration
of Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) and business names. It is
proposed that the new scheme, which will be managed and
administered by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission
(ASIC), will be operational by mid 2012.
Under the new scheme:
businesses can register once and pay a one-off fee to have
their business name registered nationally
businesses will no longer have to register their business name
in every state and territory they trade in
existing state and territory registered business names will be
transferred onto the national system
it will be possible to file a joint online application for an
ABN and national business name registration
new business name applications that are identical or nearly
identical to existing registered business names will be
The purpose of the new system is to reduce red tape, and save
time and costs for businesses. This new national system will
streamline the business name registration process while maintaining
the overall purpose of the system in allowing consumers to easily
ascertain who is behind a business name.
Obtaining a monopoly in a name or brand
Businesses should be aware that registration of a business name
is a statutory obligation but does not provide any property rights
in the business name.
To ensure you have a national monopoly in the name or brand used
by your business in relation to the goods and/or services you trade
in, trade mark registration should be sought and/or maintained.
This is particularly important given the ease with which the new
system will allow businesses to register and use business names
nationally. The statutory rights granted by trade mark registration
can be enforced against a competing business which uses a name or
brand that is substantially identical or deceptively similar to the
registered trade mark in relation to goods or services similar to
those covered by the trade mark registration.
Conversely, businesses should ensure their business name does
not infringe the rights of trade mark owners both here in Australia
and, if the business exports and/or has an online presence,
Our Intellectual Property team can advise you on the impact of
this new system on your business and your overall branding
strategy, in particular how to strengthen and develop your trade
mark rights by registration and how to avoid potential claims of
trade mark infringement. Please contact Jane Owen or Lisa Egan to
obtain further information.
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.
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On 12th November 2016, new laws will commence to protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts.
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