Information

Company name

Is the name of a company, a legal entity, having status, rights and obligations like any person. Companies, and their names, are registered under the Corporations Law regulated by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

Registration of a company name entitles the company to use it only as it's company name, which requires use of the words "Limited" or "Pty. Limited" at the end eg. Futuretrade Pty Limited or Telstra Limited.

Failure to use the words "Limited" or "Pty. Limited" means the company may be using its name as a trademark, which may infringe someone else's legal rights.

Registration of a company name does not of itself permit a company to sue others who use similar names.

Business name

Is a name a company or a person conducts business under if it is not using it's own company name or personal name. The law requires the company, or person, to register that name with the Office of Fair Trading in each state of Australia in which it has business premises.

Why? Transparency in business dealings: it allows anyone to find out from the state government the person or company is that is operating under the business name, to prevent the person or company from hiding behind the business name to avoid their legal obligations, such as paying debts and obeying the law.

Registration of a business name permits the use of that name as a business name, such as on letterhead, brochures, etc. where the other contact details ie. addresses, phone numbers, etc. are adjacent. Registration of a business name does not necessarily permit use of that name as a trademark or brand eg. on product labels, shop awnings, vehicle livery, etc. where only the name is present.

A registered business name is not property. Registration in itself gives no ownership rights in the name to the registrant, it has no legal status, and it does not of itself permit the registrant to sue others who use similar names. It may not even give the registrant the legal right to use that name.

If you want to sell a business, a business name registration cannot be included in the business's assets, nor can it be assigned, transferred or given to anyone else. If the registrant ceases business, the business name registration must be cancelled.

 

Domain name

Is a textual representation of a numeric address for a location on the Internet. It corresponds to the actual numeric address which computers can read.

Registration of a domain name permits the registrant to use that name only as a website address eg. on letterhead or brochures along with other contact details, such as names, physical addresses, e-mail addresses, phone and fax numbers.

Use of that domain name on product labels, shop awnings, vehicle livery, etc. where only the domain name is present, is not necessarily permissible and could infringe the trademark rights of others. You cannot use a domain name registration to prevent others using trademarks.

While it is possible to register a domain name matching a registered trademark or one the subject of an application, you may not be able to register a domain name which only matches a registered a business name. For full information on the domain name registration rules, see the AUDA website: http://www.auda.org.au

Trademark

Is a word, slogan, picture, and or combination of all of these, sound, smell or colour, used to distinguish the goods or services of a supplier from those of other suppliers. It is sometimes called a brand, and can be used on the goods or on promotional material.

While it is not compulsory to register a trademark in Australia, registration gives the registered owner exclusive use of the trademark, as a trademark, throughout Australia, for the goods and services for which it is registered.

To stop others using your unregistered trademark is possible, but you would need to demonstrate a reputation in the marketplace, such that the public is confused by the third-party use, which is not necessarily simple or cheap if such use is interstate or is used for goods or services not related to yours.

Registration of a business name, company name or domain name does not in itself give you any legally enforceable right to prevent others from using similar names - only a federally registered trademark gives you that right.

While the same word(s) may be registered by different people as a business name and trademark, the registered trademark owner may be able to sue the business name registrant for infringing the trademark if the business name registrant uses the name on goods/services similar to those covered by the trademark registration.

Caution: When registering a business name, ensure your use of it does not infringe someone's legal rights, and in particular someone else's registered trademark. At least get someone to search the federal trademark records first.

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