The national business names register commenced on 28 May 2012, replacing all state business name registers. Previously, under individual state laws, registering business names was relatively expensive, particularly if you wanted your business name recognised in more than one state.
Now, you can register a new business name online that applies nationally. The application of the registration throughout Australia substantially lessens the administrative burden of multiple registrations. Costs for registering a national business name are also significantly cheaper under the new system: $30 for one year, or $70 for three years.
If you already have your business name registered, you do not have to do anything as that business name should automatically be transferred on to the nationwide register. However, given experience with the new Personal Property Securities Register, it might be wise to check your business name is on the new register.
Where your business name is identical or nearly identical to other business names being transferred from different States, ASIC may insert a distinguishing mark or expression on the register. This distinguishing mark/expression will not be included in the business name itself, so there would be no need to change the business name on your signage or stationery. You can choose an alternative identifier if you prefer, which ASIC will use if available.
As a business owner, you are required to register a business name (if you have not already done so) so that consumers can identify the legal entity that is trading under that business name. For example, if A or ABC Pty Ltd trades under the name XYZ, he, she or it is required to register XYZ as a business name.
To register a new business name, you will also need to quote an Australian Business Number (ABN), which (if you do not have one already) you can apply for at the same time as you register your business name.
Other than to be legally compliant, there is another important reason to register your business name: to ensure someone else cannot register the same name in another state (or in the same state), even if your use pre-dates their use of the name. For this reason, it is strongly advisable to have your business name registered earlier rather than later. If you want to search for any business name online to check your business name is available, you can do so by simply entering a name or business details.
However you should note that the registration of a business name does not give you ownership of the name or the exclusive right to use it. Nor does it protect against others using the name as a brand or registering a similar business name. To obtain these rights, you also need to consider the registration of your business name on the trade marks register. If two people want the same business name, the winner will be the one with the registered trade mark.
Please contact us if you have any queries about the new business name regime.