No. Your business name will not protect your trade mark rights.
If you have started a new business, one of your first steps may have been to register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). You need to register with ASIC if you are trading under a name that is not your own.
ASIC will only approve business names that are unique or not too similar to other registered business names.
However, registering a business name does not protect your rights to that name or word. While it does prevent someone else from registering the exact same name with ASIC, it does not stop a competitor from selling products or services under your business name.
Additionally, if someone has a trade mark already registered with that word in a same or similar category, they may be able to prevent you from trading under that name.
If you want exclusive rights to your business name, you need to protect it with a trade mark alongside your ASIC business name registration.
A trade mark is a way of identifying a unique product or service by using a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, movement, aspect of packaging, or a combination of these. Business names will most commonly be a word, phrase, or logo.
A trade mark gives you exclusive rights to use that name throughout Australia for an initial period of 10 years. The trade mark will help you protect your name and stop others from using it.
Most trade marks are narrowed in scope to the area of services or goods that are linked to the entity. For example, ‘Apple’ has a registered trade mark for computers and phones, but there are many apple brands that use the word ‘apple’ to describe the type of fruit they are. That may be allowable if there is a distinct difference between the products and consumers will not be mixed up by the brands.
Dove Soap and Dove Chocolate is another commonly used example of two distinct brands with the same name because their products are identifiably different.
Before you choose a business name, you should check with IP Australia to ensure that your name is not already registered by someone else in the same industry. If you use someone else’s trade mark, they may have rights to prevent you from using the same name. All your money and time spent creating a brand could be wasted if you do not do due diligence from the beginning.
When you start planning your new business, we recommend searching names on ASIC and IP Australia to ensure your brand will be distinct and unique. Your product might be the next ‘Apple’ and you will want to protect those naming rights from the beginning so you can protect your brand as it grows.
If you are thinking about starting a business or want to take steps to protect your current business, contact our team today. Protecting your brand is an important step to protect your reputation and legacy in the future.
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