We had a great question from a client recently about whether another person could copy their business name.
The answer depends on where the business name has been registered. There is a big difference between a legal name, a business/trading name and a trade mark. If you’re building a brand, it’s important to understand the difference when you first start up to avoid major headaches or disappointment (or both!) later.
Your legal name is simply the name of your trading entity. If you are a sole trader, then this is your own name. You may have set up a company, in which case the company name is your business’ legal name, like Legalite Pty Ltd, or you may be a partnership, in which case your legal name is described in your partnership agreement (sometimes the names of the partners).
Your business name is the name you want to be known as to the public and under which your business will be trading. If your business name is different to your legal name, then you should register it with ASIC. At the time of writing, the fees for registering a business name are $34 for one year and $80 for three years.
Your legal name and business name do not give you legal protection from other people registering the same name.
This is the important one. Registering your name as a trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use that name.
Before registering your business name or trade mark, you should conduct a trade mark search at https://search.ipaustralia.gov.au/trademarks/search/quick to see whether the name is already taken.
You should register your name as a trade mark in the “class” of goods or services relevant to your industry.
Check out our handy example below.
[idea]David Jones is setting up a doggy day care business called “David’s Doggy Day Care”. David’s trusty lawyers at Legalite have set up a company for him called “Jones Pty Ltd”.
David would need to register the business name ““David’s Doggy Day Care” because it is different to his legal (company) name. Most importantly though, he will need to register the name as a trade mark to make sure his competitors don’t use the same name. [/idea]