How Do I Avoid a Business Name Clash?
In Australia every business must register a business name in order to trade. Find out how to check if your business name is available.
Choosing a name is an important starting point for your new business. Your business name helps customers find, identify and connect with your business. When deciding upon a name you will need to consider your location, industry and the market.
After brainstorming you may think you have come up with the perfect name for your business, but the key question to ask – is my business name available?
How to Avoid a Business Name Clash?
The worst thing you could possibly do is select a name that is already used by another business. If there is already a business with a nearly identical name, you will want to rethink your decision. Using a similar name makes it difficult for potential customers to distinguish between your business and your similarly named competitor. Offensive and misleading names can also be rejected.
To avoid spending time and resources on changing your name, conduct a series of initial searches to avoid a business name clash.
Step 1. Double-check the business name with ASIC
To ensure that your proposed business name is not already registered, conduct a simple name search on ASIC. You can check the availability of the business name with ASIC’s Business Name Register. Start off by searching for the business name you are thinking of using. This search will quickly identify any businesses with a similar name to yours. In some circumstances you can register a similar name, but to maintain your uniqueness, it is beneficial to use a different name.
Step 2. Trademark search with IP Australia.
After your initial name check, search your name via Australia Trade Mark Search. A trademark offers exclusive use over the business name. For example, the name ‘LawPath’ is protected by trademark. Goods and services are broken down into 45 different classes, with trademarks registered into a particular class or classes. If a business has already trademarked your potential name in the same potential class or classes, you cannot use that name and any use may result in legal action from your registered competitor. You should conduct this check before designing and print any advertising, and setting up your website.
Trademarks and their registration can be confusing, it is always advised to seek advice from an experienced trademark attorney.
Step 3. Seek out your domain with GoDaddy or conduct a Google search
A domain name is not only your business’s website address but also your online identity. After all other searches, check with GoDaddy and a simple Google search to see if your domain name is available. Without this search, you may find yourself in a situation where the business name is available but the domain is not.
Check if the ‘.com’ or ‘.com.au’ URL is available. If you are registering a ‘.com.au’ domain you will need an Australian Business Number (ABN). Also make sure your business name is web-friendly. An obscure name may be unique and available but can also be difficult for potential customers to remember and search.
For more information on How to Register a Domain Name check out our previous guide.
Once you have conducted all relevant searches and your business name is available, you can now proceed to registering your business name on ASIC Connect.The application process takes 15-20 minutes to complete.
To ensure you have the exclusive use of your business name, you can register your business name as a trademark. You can check out our previous guide on How to Trademark a Business Name.
LawPath can help you register an ABN with our easy to use online service. Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or any other legal needs.
Fiona is a Paralegal working in our content team which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With an interest in information, media, consumer and employment law, her primary focus is on how technology will affect the future of the legal industry.