In the sixteenth century, William Shakespeare mused "that
which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet".
Naturally the modern world of commerce has no room for such
romantic notions. A business name is a crucial part of generating
goodwill and building valuable brand identity and equity, so
it's important to be on top of what you need to do to protect
SINGLE NATIONAL REGISTRATION AND PROTECTION
Registrations (and renewals) are handled by ASIC and businesses
can now register their business name once nationally, rather than
separately in each state or territory where their business
operates. While this makes registration cheaper and easier, it
carries the risk that someone operating in another state already
has the name you want so you cannot register it. You can check
business name availability on ASIC's website www.asic.gov.au.
MAINTAINING REGISTRATION IS CRUCIAL
Under the new system, there is also the risk that if your
business name registration lapses or is cancelled, someone else can
register it and take your business name. As things currently stand,
if another business already has the same name as yours in another
state/territory, they will also have the right to use it nationally
so long as they maintain their registration. If your business name
registration lapses in this circumstance, you will not be able to
re-register it due to the operators in other
A business name can only be renewed once ASIC has sent out a
notice. During this transitional period, ASIC is allowing names to
extend past their normal renewal dates without cancellation,
however the name must be renewed once the notice is issued,
otherwise it will lapse.
ASIC will provide 28 days notice of when a name is due to
expire. They will not cancel any business names until the renewal
payment due date has passed and will issue cancellation notices
before cancelling a name.
It is important to check postal and email addresses with ASIC to
ensure that renewal notices are going to the correct address.
BUSINESS NAMES - WHAT THEY CAN'T PROTECT
Business name registration does not necessarily bestow ownership
of the name nor the exclusive right to use it.
It's important to note that registering a business name:
Does not stop another person from registering a similar
Will not prevent the name being registered as a trademark
Will not prevent the name being used by someone that has
already registered it as a trademark
Does not protect you from legal action if the name of your
business infringes on the intellectual property rights of another
(for example, a name which is a registered trademark)
On 12th November 2016, new laws will commence to protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts.
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