A business name is simply a name or title under which a person, or other legal entity, trades. It not only identifies you to your customers, but also allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and enables your customers to make an emotional connection to your business and brand. For many businesses, the name is often the most valuable asset.

Registering your Business Name

When setting up your business, if you choose to operate as a sole trader, partnership or a trust, and not as a company, then you will have to register your business name in the state or territory in which you’ll operate. If your business name includes your or your partner’s, first name and surname, then you don’t need to register your business name.

If you’re setting up your business in more than one state, you need to register your business name separately in each state.

Registering a business name does not in itself give you any exclusive rights over the use of that name—only a trademark can give you that kind of protection. Ensure you have exclusive use of your name now and in the future throughout Australia by registering a trademark.

All registrations will now be handled centrally through the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) with recognition in every State. This might seem a small issue but the change is incredibly sensible.

Every businesses must have a registered business name if trading. That is, it will be an offence not to have one except where:

•  You use your own name or
•  Have a company name.

Your business name will be tied to your Australian Business Number. If you don’t have an ABN, you won’t be allowed a registered business name.

Business name registration does not give you proprietary rights over the name. It’s just a registration and identification system.

You will have to use your business name in all your commercial dealings.

If you have an existing business name registered in a state, you’ll be automatically registered under the new system.

Trusts and superannuation funds also have to register.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) will administer the new system.

•  Current State-based registers of business names will be automatically ‘rolled over’ into the new scheme
•  ASIC will administer and maintain the register
•  Registration will available online 24/7.
•  Fees will be much the same as present (if anything, a little less for many registrants) and significantly cheaper for businesses who currently register in more than one State.
•  It will use computer-based checks to determine if a name is materially identical with an existing name (ie, there will be little ‘human’ input into determinations of uniqueness, as is often the case in most current State schemes).
•  Names which are ‘identical or nearly identical’ to existing names will not be registered under the new scheme.
•  But, identical names that are currently registered in different states will become part of the new scheme with a geographical suffix to distinguish them (on the register only, not in the marketplace).
•  There will be provisions for appeal if an applicant is unsuccessful.
•  All new applications will need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN) when registering a business name (but will be able to apply for an ABN at the same time as the business name application).

Here at The Quinn Group, our team of experienced lawyers, accountants and business advisors can help to assist organisations with all your business registration needs. For individually tailored information and advice for your new or existing business situation contact us on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online enquiry.