The new National Business Names Register will commence on 28 May 2012 under the administration of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (“ASIC”). Here is how it will affect your business:
1. A National System
If your business name is currently registered in multiple States, it will now be registered nationally, and you will only need to pay one renewal fee. The new system will also only require you to register a new business name once to cover all States.
2. ABN Compulsory
You will now need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN), or be in the process of applying for one, in order to apply for a business name.
3. Distinguishing Names
If your business has an identical name as another business operating in another state or territory, ASIC will provide additional information on the public register to differentiate affected businesses. This may be the State or Territory your business name was first registered in. The identifier will not form part of your business name, but is used to allow people to distinguish between identical business names on the public register.
If you already have a business name registered, you will not see a significant change in the system (aside from the fact that your renewal letters will be on a new letterhead). ASIC will contact you when registration is due for renewal if the renewal date is after 28 May 2012. If the renewal falls due between now and 28 May 2012 you should contact your state authority to renew the name under the current system.
5. Registration Fees
Registration fees will be significantly less under the new system: $30 for a one year registration and $70 for a three year registration (currently $133.60 and $255.60 respectively).
6. Ease of Access
One of the significant benefits that businesses will see from the new system will be ease of access to all of their corporate documentation in the one place. For instance, if you have a company registration, business name, or multiple business names registered, you will be able to align the renewal dates for all of those registrations under the new system.
From my experience, clients often make the mistake of assuming a registered business name is enough to secure the ownership of the business’ intellectual property.
It is important to remember however that registration of a business, company or domain name does not give you any proprietary rights to ownership of that name. If you require exclusive use of your business name, you should register it as a trade mark.
A registered trade mark under the Trade Marks Act 1995 gives you the exclusive legal right to use, license and sell your intellectual asset in Australia. The owner of a trade mark can apply for its registration. The registration period initially lasts for 10 years and can be continued indefinitely providing that you pay renewal fees.
It is also important that you use your trade mark—other applicants can apply to have your trade mark deregistered if you haven’t used it for more than three years.
ASIC is hosting a national business names roadshow to help business name holders and industry professionals understand the new business names register.
The roadshow will visit all capital cities between 17 April and 16 May 2012.
If you have any questions about your business name or intellectual property, please contact me.
The information provided in this article is for general information and educative purposes in summary form on legal topics which is current at the time it is published. The content does not constitute legal advice or recommendations and should not be relied upon as such. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, FC Lawyers cannot accept responsibility for any errors, including those caused by negligence, in the material. We make no representations, statements or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information and you should not rely on it. You are advised to make your own independent inquiries regarding the accuracy of any information provided on this website. FC Lawyers does not guarantee, and accepts no legal responsibility whatsoever arising from or in connection to the accuracy, reliability, currency, correctness or completeness of any material contained in this article. Links to third party websites or articles does not constitute any endorsement or approval of those sites or the owners of those sites. Nothing in this article should be construed as granting any licence or right for you to use that content. You should consult the third party’s terms and conditions of use in relation to any third-party content. FC Lawyers disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including liability for negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way. Appropriate legal advice should always be obtained in actual situations.