The new National Business Names Registration Service (National
Register) is due to begin on 28 May 2012, subject to all States and
Territories passing the required legislation. Under the new scheme,
businesses will only have to register their business name once on
the National Register instead of separately in each State or
Territory in which they trade. It offers a streamlined and cheaper
option for Australian businesses and will make it easier for the
general public to check details of businesses with whom they
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will
administer the National Register which will offer an online
application system, an automated business name availability test
and lower application and renewal fees.
Existing business name registrations
Existing business name registrations will be automatically
transferred to the National Register. If the same business name is
registered in more than one State or Territory, the owner can
choose to cancel all but one of the registrations. There is also a
facility for ASIC to consolidate multiple business name
registrations into one entry and to notify the owner of this.
If the owner chooses to maintain multiple registrations for the
same business name, they must nominate one principal place of
Where existing identical business names are registered by
different owners and transferred to the National Register, ASIC
will add a geographical (or other) identifier to differentiate the
respective businesses. This additional identifier will not form
part of the business name and the owner can choose a different
identifier to use if it is available.
New business name registrations
New business name applicants need to obtain an ASIC Connect
account and an Australian Business Number (ABN) before they can
register a national business name. Under the new system, businesses
can simultaneously register for an ABN and a national business name
in a single online registration process.
The new system is substantially cheaper. A business currently
operating in each State and Territory may pay fees in excess of
$1,000 for three years registration. Under the new scheme
businesses will have the option of registering their business name
at a cost of $30 for one year or $70 for three years.
The new system is also more transparent and accessible to
consumers. Whereas consumers presently have to pay to obtain
business names extracts to be able to identify the person(s) or
entity behind a business, it will now be possible to search the
National Register free of charge for contact and ownership
What has not changed
If you are carrying on a business within Australia under a name
that is not identical to your own personal name or the name of a
company or other entity, you must register that name as a business
An application to register a new business name will be refused
it if is identical or nearly identical to an existing business or
A business name registration (like a company or domain name
registration) does not give the holder any proprietary rights in
that name or the exclusive right to use that name. Such rights can
only be obtained through the trade mark registration system. While
the new online application service includes links to Australian
trade marks and domain name searches, it is important to ensure
that use of your proposed business name does not contravene the
existing rights of others. Shelston IP will continue to assist its
clients in this important area.
ASIC has released general guidelines to assist new and existing
businesses to prepare for the changes. Please visit the ASIC
www.asic.gov.au/business-names and refer to ASIC Regulatory
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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