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By March 7, 2013IP Insights

Are business names and trade marks the same thing?

The new national business names registration system commenced on 28 May 2012.  The new registration system replaced a state based business names registration system which previously meant that businesses were required to register their business name in each state where their businesses were located.  The new system is a national registration system where businesses now are only required to register their business name on the one register which is recognized nationally.

One frequent enquiry that we receive is what rights are conferred through registration of a business name opposed to registration of a Trade Mark.

Registration of a business name does not provide the registrant with any proprietary rights in the name.  In fact, the same name may be registered as business names which are registered to different persons.  Registration of a business name is a legal requirement for businesses that are trading in Australia.  The business names register merely lists the registrant’s name to identify who the person is behind the business.

In contrast, a Trade Mark does provide owners with proprietary rights in the name.  A Trade Mark is recognized as property under Australian law and is valued as an intangible asset. 

The owner of an Australian Trade Mark enjoys a number of advantages by registering a Trade Mark, including nationwide rights to exclusively use the Trade Mark for the goods and services for which it is registered.  This right extends to prevent others from using (and attempt to register) deceptively similar or substantially identical Trade Marks for the same or similar goods or services which are likely to cause confusion in the marketplace.  Preventing misuse of your Trade Mark by others will aid in maintaining your Trade Mark’s distinctiveness and reduce the chances of your Trade Mark being diluted.

Furthermore, Trade Mark rights have the potential to be indefinite, with no set expiry period, provided the Trade Mark is renewed every 10 years.  This makes Trade Marks a worthwhile investment which serves to protect your name and the reputation behind your name that your customers recognize.

If you have any questions on how Trade Mark protection can benefit you, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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