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From the Knowledge Base

What is a business name?

A business name is simply a name or title under which a person, or other legal entity, trades. It not only identifies you to your customers, but also allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and enables your customers to make an emotional connection to your business and brand. For many businesses, the name is often the most valuable asset.

When setting up your business, if you choose to operate as a sole trader, partnership or a trust, and not as a company, then you will have to register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). If your business name is your, or your partner’s, first name and surname, then there is no need to register.

Registering a business name does not in itself give you any exclusive rights over the use of that name—only a trade mark can give you that kind of protection. Ensure you have exclusive use of your name now and in the future throughout Australia by registering it as a trade mark. We can assist in that registration if needed.

When do I need to register a business name?

Generally, you will need to register a business name with us if you carry on a business or trade within Australia and you are not trading under your own entity name.

You do not need to register a business name if the entity is, for example:

  • an individual and the business name is the individual’s name (their first name and surname)
  • a registered company and the business name is the company’s name, or
  • a partnership and the business name consists of all of the partners’ names.

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’.

If you are unsure about whether you are exempt from registering a name, or whether you are carrying on a business or trading within Australia then contact us for assistance.

A business name does not give you exclusive trading rights over the name.

The differences between business names, trade marks, company names and domain names sometimes cause confusion. Business name holders often think that by registering a business name they have protected a brand or trading name – whereas in fact the business name laws that exist today do not offer that type of protection.

The new business names laws have not changed any of the existing law relating to trade marks or to intellectual property in a name. Be aware that registering your business name does not give you ownership of that name. Registering a particular name does not stop another person from registering a similar name nor does it give you the exclusive right to use the name or part of the name. Also, registering a business name will not prevent the name being used by somebody who has registered it as a trade mark. This is an important point – and one that every business owner should be aware of. The obligation to register a business name is a legal obligation which is entirely separate to any steps that business owners may take to protect any intellectual property rights in a name or brand, such as registering a trade mark.

Generally, you must register a business name if you carry on business in Australia and you are not trading under your entity name.

Renewing your business name

If you have a registered business name, you will need to renew it every one or three years with ASIC. ASIC will send you your renewal notice 30 days before your business name is due to be renewed. Once you receive it, you can renew using the online service, ASIC Connect or asking us to assist.

Do I need an ABN to register a business name?

Yes.

Before you register your business name, you need an ABN. We can apply for your ABN on your behalf for a fee, or otherwise you can apply for your ABN at www.abr.gov.au.

Domain Names

A domain name gives online businesses a unique electronic address. You can arrange to buy a domain name yourself or through an internet service provider (ISP). To buy a .com.au or .net.au domain name, you must be a commercial entity and possess either an ACN or ABN. For more information on domain name registration contact us now.

Trademarks

As a business, one of your most important assets is your brand. It’s vital that you protect that brand, which means you should complete a trade mark registration for both your business name and logo. We can assist any business, big or small, to register a trade mark. We provide fixed-fees for all trade mark registrations, and one of our trade mark consultants will complete the process for you. We operate Australia wide, so whether you’re in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or somewhere else, our consultants can register your trade mark for a low, fixed-fee. Just get in touch with any questions!

Established in 1976, ABN Australia has helped more than 100,000 businesses choose and establish their preferred business structure here in Australia. Our longevity is a testament to the high level of customer service we provide, and the wealth of experience we bring to the table.

 

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