Most people think, incorrectly, that if they register their business name under the Business Names Registration procedures that they have then “protected” the name so that no one else can open up a business using the same name. This is in fact not correct. The purpose of business name registration is to allow consumers and others to find out information such as who is the owner of a business name, etc.
In order to protect a business name from it being used by somebody else, you need to register the name under the Trademarks Act. It is important to understand that there is a difference between being the owner of a business name on the one hand and being able to prevent other people from using that same business name on the other hand.
In order to protect a business name you need to register the business name as a Trade Mark. This process is not particularly difficult and can be done online by going to the IP Australia website and following the prompts in relation to a Trade Mark. Registration lasts for ten (10) years and can then be renewed at the end of the ten (10) year period.
It is possible to try and protect a business name which has not been registered as a Trade Mark from being used by someone else, however, the success rate is much lower where the name has not been registered as a Trade Mark and the legal costs much higher.
Anyone owning a business who believes that the business name under which they operate is a valuable asset and is part of the goodwill of the business should seriously consider registering the business name as a Trade Mark.