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Company Names: What Terms are Restricted?

Company Names: What Terms are Restricted?

When selecting a company name, it is necessary that it not only properly reflects your corporate dealings, but also does not include any restricted terms.

29th July 2020
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Introduction

A good company name is important because it represents the brand of your business. It will either draw in customers, or send them to your competitors. When picking your company name, there are a number of considerations that you must take into account. Not just any company name can be registered, and there are a number of requirements and restrictions that it must abide by to be approved by ASIC. In this article we’ll explain which terms are considered restricted company names.

1. Identical Company Names are Restricted

You are unable to use a name that is the same as an existing company or business. Lawpath offers a Company Namecheck that is linked to ASIC. Accordingly, this will allow you to check your proposed company name. The name may not be available where a business has been cancelled within the previous six months.

However, there are some cases where you may be able to register an identical name if you own that identical name.

Where the business name holder is:

  • An individual, the name is available to the proposed company if that individual is a proposed company director or member.
  • A company, the name is available to the proposed company if that same company is a proposed member.
  • A partnership or joint venture, the name is available to the proposed company if each of the partners is a proposed company director or member.
  • A trust, the name is available to the proposed company if each of the trustees is a proposed director or member, and ASIC has provided a copy of the trust deed.

2. Certain Characters are Restricted

The ASIC Website lists all characters that are unrestricted. Notably, characters such as A-Z and 0-9 are acceptable. Also, other accepted characters include exclamation marks, full stops and hashtags.

3. Restricted Terms

Some words and phrases require government approval. These words include:

  • ‘Building society’
  • ‘Trust’
  • ‘University’
  • ‘Chamber of commerce’

Misleading words and terms are also restricted. These words include associations with the Australian Government, the Royal Family, or any ex-servicemen’s organisations. Further, a name that is offensive or suggests illegal activity may be refused by ASIC.

A few examples of restricted terms include:

  • ‘RSL’
  • ‘GST’
  • ‘Royal’
  • ‘Made in Australia’
  • ‘Sir Donald Bradman’

Reserving a Company Name

If you have not yet registered your company, but you want to ensure that your company name is available, you can apply to reserve it.  If approved, the name will be reserved for two months. You must re-apply to reserve the name again, and ASIC will not reserve a name for a long period of time to prevent other people from using the name legitimately.

You can find out more about reserving a company name here.

Conclusion

When selecting a company name, it is necessary that it not only properly reflects your corporate dealings, but also does not include any restricted terms. Hence, you must ensure that your company’s name is not identical to another’s, does not include certain characters, and contains no misleading terms.

Don’t know where to start?
Contact a Lawpath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Author
Daniel Lim

Daniel is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce at Macquarie University. His primary interests are in commercial law, specifically in the areas of technology, intellectual property and media law.