On 28 May 2012, the new business names registration system will commence. The new system integrates the business names systems of each state and territory into a national registration network. Business names are currently regulated individually by state and territory governments.
Under the new system:
- business names will be registered through ASIC;
- you can apply online and receive immediate confirmation of registration;
- links to trade mark and domain name searches will be integrated for users;
- integration with ASIC will streamline the company registration and business name process;
- there will be lower registration fees ($30 for a one year registration period, $70 for a three year period);
- new applicants are required to have or be in the process of applying for (and not have been refused) an ABN; and
- names will not be available if they are identical or nearly identical to a company or business name that is already registered, are likely to be offensive, contain prohibited or restricted words or are likely to mislead or deceive consumers and traders.
Existing business names
Existing state and territory business names will be transferred into the national system. The due date of renewals for existing business names will not change.
Existing identical business names that were registered by different owners will co-exist on the register. These business names will be distinguished by an identifier to help people differentiate between different businesses. This identifier will only appear on the register; it will not be included in the business name itself.
Impact on trade marks
Registering a business name or company name does not give the owner of the name any IP rights in that name. This can only be achieved by registering a trade mark.
The ability to register business names that only differ by geographical location reinforces the importance of protecting your brand and reputation by registering your business name as a trade mark. This should be done before the new system comes into force to protect your legal rights if a similar or identical business name already exists.