Corporate & Commercial 06 September 2022

Protect your brand’s most valuable assets – your business name and logo

Your business name and logo form the basis of your brand. You need to properly protect them. If you don’t properly protect these assets, you are putting your business at risk.

Do I have to register my business name?

Yes – you are required by law to register your chosen business name.

Regardless of the underlying structure of the business i.e., company or a trust, your business name is your trading name and needs to be registered.  The exception to this is if you are trading using your own name. In that case, you will just need to apply for an ABN, and not a business name.

How do I register my business name?

You can search the ASIC business names register to see if your proposed name is already being used by another Australian business or company. You cannot register a business name that is identical or nearly identical to the registered name of another.

Once you are ready to register your business name, you will need to visit the website to complete an application and pay a registration fee.

A business must have an ABN or be in the process of applying for one with the Australian Business Register website before ASIC will register a business name.

Do I also need to register my business name as a trade mark?

It is important to note that registering your business name does not mean your business name is protected from use by your competitors.

If your business name is a valuable asset for your brand, we recommend you also register your business name as a trade mark.

Unlike business name registration, trade mark registration is not compulsory by law, although registering a trade mark does provide you with legal grounds to enforce your exclusive right to use your trade mark, and provide you with a defence should someone seek to impose their trade mark rights on you or your business. Registering a trade mark can be a strategic decision made to protect your brand and put competitors on notice that you have these rights in your name and other branding such as a logo or slogan.

What exactly is a trade mark?

A trade mark is your identifying brand and is used to distinguish your business from other products and services. A trade mark can be a letter, number, word, phrase, logo, image, sound, movement, shape or scent. A trade mark is a type of intellectual property, along with copyright, patents and designs.

By registering your trade mark, be it your business name, logo or other branding, you are given exclusive rights to use the trade mark in Australia. If a trade mark exists but is not registered, it can be difficult to prove your unregistered rights to use the trade mark in Australia and you may find yourself in a dispute about the ownership and use of the trade mark in the future.

If a trade mark similar to yours already exists, it may be possible for both trade marks to co-exist if the goods and services they relate to are different.

How do I register a trade mark?

IP Australia manages registrations for trade mark protection in Australia. A separate application needs to be made to IP Australia for each trade mark you are applying for protection of.

An application fee is also payable at the time of application.

A trade mark provides protection in all Australian states and territories for an initial period of 10 years. It can then be renewed every 10 years.

What can Coulter Legal do to assist?

Our experienced Corporate & Commercial team are able to assist you with the process of registering your business name, along with setting up a company or trust structure and registering trade marks to protect your brand and can continue to support you through the growth of your business.

Rebecca Sandford.
Rebecca Sandford Principal Lawyer Head of Corporate & Commercial View profile
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