Business Name Trademark - check for trademarks BEFORE registering in Australia
Business Name Trademark
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A good copywriter knows which words
trigger the feelings that compel people to make decisions. They write with
flair, making it easy for people to be drawn into what they are saying about
your business, services or products. Read an an example of good copywriting for a
fictitious Sydney Mercedes Dealer, or
website copy for a Used Mercedes dealer.
The most effective way to safeguard you against people "trading off" your business name, product or service, is to register a trademark. For more information, including about the justweb® trade mark, please read our
trademark registration article.
One of the first steps to establish a brand can be to complete a
business name registration in your state or territory. In Australia, each state
and territory has a different office or government department that deals with business name
applications (see below for a list of
When you apply for a new business name, they will run checks to make sure you
are not registering a business name that is the same or very similar to another
in that state or territory or similar to a company name registered with ASIC
(Australian Securities & Investments Commission).
However, before you run off to do a business name registration, it is important you do
a range of checks yourself
- ones which are not done on your behalf by the office concerned.
Make your VERY FIRST STEP a search online. For example use Google and
search the possible use of your intended name as a product name, or the name of
a business or other organisation.
If the online coast is clear, possibly the SECOND STEP is to register a
domain name to establish your brandís online presence. Once again, as a trap for
new players, remember that the domain name registrar and auDA will not perform
business, company or trademark searches on your behalf.
Therefore, as a THIRD STEP it is VERY important you perform an ATMOSS search (IP Australia) to ensure you
are not breaching a registered trademark. The local government office or domain
registrar you are dealing with will probably not advise of this, as it is your
responsibility, not theirs to check for a business name trademark. Now here's the kicker.
Trade mark law and
procedure is vastly more complex compared to the law and procedure for business,
company and domain name registration. There's a full legal process for trade
mark registration, while other forms of name registration are largely an administrative exercise. To get a trademark registration takes about 12 months
or more, for other types of name registration it can be done in as little as 5
Don't forget to also use the ASIC company and business
names search to further eliminate the chance of registering a name that is
Not surprisingly, trade mark searching is an art best left to experts. By all
means take an initial look yourself, but you'll do better to instruct an
experienced searcher, who may be a lawyer or a trade mark attorney. It's not
just words you have to consider, but also logos, combinations of words and
graphics, which classes marks are recorded in, the status of marks (eg
registered or not yet?), and the description of the products or services to
which they relate. So it's not the simple "hunt and peck" searching that might
be carried out by a chicken looking for seeds to eat!
If your business, company or domain name registration is successful, and you
haven't done the checks you should have BEFORE registration, six months down the track you may
a letter of demand from a lawyer, on behalf of a trademark owner, insisting you
cease the use of your cherished business, company or domain name. You will have
fallen for trap 101 and may be
breaching the rights of a trademark owner. At that stage, it can be very costly indeed to either fight in court,
or, if you decide not to fight, establish a new business identity and website
All of which might be saved by a simple 2 minute check before registering
your business, company or domain name! As we've said, for greater certainty and
security, use someone who is experienced in name registration and protection.
Online searching of registers for business names, company names, domain names
and trade marks is deceptively simple. The costs of coming to the wrong
conclusions vastly exceed the $400 to $1,000 it typically costs to instruct an
experienced professional to do a proper and relatively comprehensive search and
advise on appropriate strategies.
Besides performing or commissioning these highly recommended searches for legal reasons, why would you want to
register a business name or domain name that is already established anyway?
Unless of course you are purposely "trading off" the established business name
and their reputation, in which case, you may be asking for trouble.
These legal stoushes can get very messy and very expensive - so do your due
diligence BEFORE registering your chosen names. This will not only save YOU time
and money, but it will also save the trademark owner valuable time, expense and
Consider recent justweb™ experience. In the past week I have found THREE businesses
who have come from nowhere, registered their business names, and established
their websites, without the slightest idea to first check maybe someone has
a trademark that they could be infringing upon. If they did perform such a search,
they would then have two choices:
1) Decide upon a new, unique name they can call their own - not someone else's
2) Seek their own legal advice if they are unsure their chosen name infringes
upon an existing trademark
So, do these two simple searches first, and if you really want to safeguard your own name, register a trademark.
For professional trademark and business registration advice, justweb™ uses and recommends the services of:
Australian Capital Territory
Refer to the
Office of Regulatory Services website or phone (02) 6207 3000 for further
information. Please note a registration fee will apply.
New South Wales You can download an application form and register your business name over the
counter at a
Trading Centre. Please note a registration fee will apply. Refer to the NSW
Office of Fair Trading webpage or phone 13 32 20 for further information.
Download an application form from the
Department of Justice website or phone (08) 8946 9530 for further
Download the Application for registration of a business name form on the
Queensland Office of Fair Trading website or phone a fair trading customer
service representative on 13 13 04 for further information.
Download an application form from the
Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading website and lodge it at any Service
Tasmania shop. Please note an application fee is applicable. For further
information, phone 1300 654 499.
You can register your business name online, on the
Consumer Affairs Victoria website or phone 1300 361 673 for further
information. Check the Victorian Names Register to see whether another business
has already registered a name similar to the name you want.
Register your business name on the
Department of Commerce's
Business names website. A registration fee is applicable. Phone 1300 304 014
if you need more information.
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