How to pick your business name

Picking a business name is a really important and exciting part of starting a new business.

But, before investing your time and resources into a business name, you need to ensure it is feasible to use. This can be done by making sure the name is not already taken by another business owner, and the domain name is free for you to use.

To ensure that your business name is able to be protected against others using it, you should also check that it is trademarkable.

Here are the steps you need to take so that you can lock in a business name, and make sure no one else can use it:

Is the business name available?

It is critical to ensure that the potential name is not already in use and is available to register with ASIC. Penalties apply if you trade without owning the business name.

If the name you were hoping for is already taken, you may still be able to register a similar one (but this is not recommended). Note that no one is allowed to purchase an identical name that is already registered with ASIC. You should also check that the name is not on ASIC’s excluded word list. Words on this list include words such as ‘police’ or ‘ANZAC’ which require consent prior to use.

Is the domain name available?

When registering your business name, the next step is to check that the website address you want is available. This is referred to as a ‘domain name’. You can register a domain name for a year, at a low cost.

You can check to see if the domain name you want is not already taken by doing research to see if anyone is already using a similar or the same website address. To avoid confusing potential clients, you should make sure your domain name is individual and not substantially similar to one already in use.

Social media handles are also a really important tool for businesses, so you should check to see if you can secure the same social media handles across all platforms so that clients can easily find you.

Is the business name able to be trademarked?

Many people do not realise that owning a business name does not give you the Intellectual Property (IP) protection where you could prevent others using the name. While you cannot register an identical business name with ASIC, you can register a name that is a character different. A  registered trademark is the only way that you are able to stop someone else using an identical or deceptively similar name within your registered class.

It can be quite difficult to successfully register a trademark with IP Australia. There are 45 different classes that you can register your trademark in. Depending on the nature of your business and the kind of goods or services you provide, your business may fall under one class, or numerous classes. You will only be protected in the classes that you register so it is important to get this right. Other factors which may prevent the successful registration of a trademark include whether your mark is deemed to be descriptive of the goods/services offered, uses a common name, or is geographical. You must also consider the already registered marks within the relevant class/es as these could serve to block yours.

It is essential to trademark your business name, so that only you can use it! It is a huge value add for your business if you can protect your IP in this way.

Is the business name already trademarked to someone else?

This is a definitive No No. If the business name you intend to use is already trademarked within the class of goods and services step away!

You cannot use a business name that is already trademarked by someone else in Australia. A trademark is a legal right granted to a person or company that prevents others from using a similar name for similar goods or services in the same jurisdiction. Infringing on someone else’s trademark can result in legal action, including fines and the requirement to change your business name. It is therefore advisable to conduct a trademark search before using a new business name to ensure that it is not already trademarked by someone else.

What should I do?

It can be costly if you invest your time and money on a business name and later realise one of these key areas has not been addressed and you can’t use it. If you need assistance assessing the feasibility of your potential business names beforehand, we offer a competitive fixed fee Brand Check Service : Our clients find this service invaluable!

For further details Book in free call here.

Helen Kay - Managing Director

Helen Kay

If you require any assistance with your business legals or any other commercial legal issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Typical Legal Disclaimer!…

Unfortunately, there is never a ‘one size fits all’ formula to apply. Every situation is unique and it can be tricky to wrap your head around some areas of the law. To ensure you are setting yourself and your business up for success, it is always best to consult a legal professional with expertise in the field.

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