PART 2 of Choosing a business name : Business name vs Trade mark and Domain names - and where to start...
Head over to http://www.asic.gov.au/
A business name is simply a name or title under which a person or entity conducts a business. In Australia, unless you fall within an exemption, you must register your business name. Registering a business name is a legal obligation if you plan to carry on business or trade in Australia using a name other than your own.
To register a business name, you will need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN) or be in the process of applying for one with the Australian Business Register (ABR).
It's important to remember that registering a business name doesn't mean you own it, or that you are preventing other people from being able to register and use similar names. Generally, the only way to gain exclusivity over a particular business name is to register it as a trade mark with IP Australia.
Exceptions to needing a business name include:
• if you are operating as an individual and your operating name is the same as your first name and surname
• if you are in a partnership and your operating name is the same as all of the partners' names, or
• if you are an already registered Australian company and your operating name is the same as your company's name.
The law does not allow any changes from the business holder’s name if you wish to rely on the above exemptions. For example, if your name is John Smith, and the name of your business is ‘John Smith & Co’, you will need to register the business name ‘John Smith & Co’.
On the ASIC website, there is a business name search tool where you can see if any other genius is trading as your name https://connectonline.asic.gov.au/RegistrySearch/faces/landing/bn/SearchBnRegisters.jspx
Don’t forget to search for your name as a whole word (for instance FLUIDINK and Fluid Ink) as this can make a difference.
Did you know that you may be inadvertently infringing someone else's trade mark with your proposed business name? Choosing a business name that infringes an existing trade mark can be a costly exercise - it could mean hefty legal bills, drawn out disputes and even the closure of your business.
That's why it's so important to undertake a trade mark (TM) check. - Read on in part 3 where we cover ‘TRADE MARKS’
DISCLAIMER: Do your own research - This is Davina’s experience and is by no means exhaustive - every business is different… if you need a little extra help seek out the experts such as SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation)!