Protecting Your Name

If your business becomes successful, the name will be a very valuable asset. If you fail to protect your name, you may one day be forced to change it and the goodwill you have developed in that name will be lost.

Business names

When choosing a business name, think about the sort of image you want to create. Your business name distinguishes your business from all the others, so you want it to be memorable…for the right reasons!

If the business structure you have chosen is as a sole trader, a partnership or a trust, and not as a company, then you are required to register your business name in the state or territory in which you will operate. But you don’t need to register a business name if you plan to conduct your business under your, or your partner’s, first name and surname.The registration of a business name does not give you any proprietary rights. If you want to protect the exclusive use of your business name, you will need to register it as a trademark.

Trademarks

A registered trademark gives you the exclusive right in Australia to use it as a brand and to legally stop imitators. Unlike a business name, a registered trademark can provide legal protection for your brand and enable you to stop others from trading with it.

While it is not mandatory to register a trademark, it is recommended. Unlike a business name, company name or domain name, a registered trademark can be legally protected against unauthorised use.

IP Australia http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au is the agency responsible for administering intellectual property rights including trade marks, patents, designs and plant breeders’ rights.

Domain names

Your domain name is your address on the internet and gives you an online identity or brand. It’s a valuable part of your business identity and an important marketing tool.

Registering a new domain name can be done through a number of registrars accredited by the Australian Domain Name Administrator (http://www.auda.org.au). You don’t own the domain name; you hold a licence to use it for a specified period of time, so long as you meet the eligibility criteria and keep your registration current.

Company names

As is the case with business names, you should conduct a search to make sure the company name you wish to use is not already registered and is not too similar to an existing company name. A company name must indicate the company’s legal status; that means it should include ‘Pty’ or ‘Pty Ltd’ in the name. Again, no proprietary rights in the company name are gained through registration.

Companies must be registered with Australian Securities and Investments Commission, to get an Australian Company Number and a certificate of registration. Visit http://www.asic.gov.au and search under the tab ‘For companies’.

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