How to name your Company or Trust

Well how hard can it be to come up with a company name? Perhaps a little harder than it initially appears if you take into account all of the considerations.

I am first assuming that want to have an integrated approach to the public face of your business. If you don’t care (and it is no sin in many cases) just go to www.asic.gov.au find a name that takes your fancy and check it out. Any little tweak on the name (e.g. adding Qld or Australia) will get it over the line with ASIC. Trusts are even easier. There is no register of trust names and within the bounds of decency, you can call it what you like.

However, if you are taking a longer view of your corporate appearance, you may want to think a little deeper. The following are the primary considerations, listed in order of simplicity:

  • Registered Business Name
  • Company Name
  • Domain
  • Trademark

A Registered Business Name is of little value when it comes to protecting your branding in any legal sense. Better than nothing, but not much. You can register multiple business names if you so desire. The benefits are limited.

A Company Name has a little more importance, but as noted above any little tweak will enable your competitors to sound a lot like you. You can reserve multiple company names, but often this has little benefit.

Domain registration is more sophisticated in Australia than other countries where you have to be able to show some link to the domain you want. While this clears domain name warehousing, the Australian domain registrar gives no warranties. They do have a dispute resolution process, but it is external to the registrar itself.

Trademarks. Now we are getting serious. It is not simple to register a trademark and it carries quite a bit of legal weight. Consequently, there is due diligence by the trademark administrator (IP Australia) to ensure that there is a level of consistency in the registration process. Trademarks are legally enforceable. Enforcing them can be expensive and you will need to weigh up the costs and benefits. International brands (Coca Cola, Nike, etc) are known for their ferocity in defending their brands and trademarks. You should be aware that names around geography or occupation are notoriously hard to trademark. E.g. Redlands Mower Service. Now that is a good business name as it leaves the most casual glance as to what you do and where you do it, but as a name it cannot be trademarked. However, you could register a trademark over a logo containing those words. At the time of publication trademarking by a reputable legal firm starts at around $1.5K.

Takeout

  • Registered Business Names and Company Names are difficult to protect
  • Branding can be completely different to your company or trust name
  • Not everything can be trademarked
  • Trademarking is not cheap, but can be very economical if someone decides to pirate your identity
  • Defending trademarks, like all property defences, can be expensive.

The article above is general information and should not be considered legal advice. We are not lawyers, but we can connect you with legal specialists in this area. If you would like to discuss this matter further contact Warren Maris on 07 3483 0102.

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