You have brainstormed ideas and have finally come up with the perfect name for your business. The name is registered with ASIC but this alone cannot provide you with the exclusive use of the business name. How can you stop others from using your business name and protect your brand?

Applying to trademark your business name can be a complicated and time-consuming process, to save time LawPath recommends getting in touch with a trademark attorney.

Why Register a Trademark

Trademarks are a valuable marketing resource that allows you to promote and protect your products and services. Any feature or combination of features that distinguishes your products or services from your competitors can be registered as a trademark. It grants the owner the exclusive right of a particular name, word, phrase, letter, number, shape, smell, sound, colour, image or aspect of packaging. As a trademark owner you will have the exclusive right to use, sell and licence your business name.

Can you trademark a business name?

Only a trademark can provide proprietary protection for your business name and prevent others from unauthorised use of your name in Australia. Iconic brand names such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Apple and Google are all protected by trademark. Registering your business name as a trademark will enhance the value of your business and protect your name from any misuse by your competitors.

How to Trademark a Business Name

Step 1. Before Applying

Prior to your application you should conduct a search of the Australian Trade Mark On-line Search System to see if your business name has already been registered or if there are any similar names that have been trademarked.

Step 2. Applying

Anyone can make a trademark application, however the owner of the business name must make the claim. The owner can be:

  • an individual;
  • a company;
  • an incorporated association; or
  • a combination of the above.

The application is online and must include:

  • Your name and contact details;
  • A representation of the trademark;
  • A description of the applicable goods and services;
  • A list of the relevant classes; and
  • The filing application fee.

Determining the Class

When applying to register your business name as a trademark you will need to determine the classes of goods and services appropriate to your business objectives. Goods and services are categorised into 45 classes and the relevant classes must be precisely identified in the application. This selection is important as it ensures that only you can commercially use your trademark within the classes it is registered.

Determining the class of goods and services for your business can be a complicated process. It is important to know the appropriate classes for your business. As classes cannot be altered after the application is submitted, LawPath advises contacting a trademark attorney.

Step 3. Examination

Once your application has been made it will be examined. Your application will be accepted unless the application has not been made in accordance with the Act or there are grounds for rejection. An examination report will be sent identifying the problems or success of your application.

The business name will be rejected if it:

  • Contains prescribed or prohibited signs;
  • Cannot be represented graphically;
  • Is not distinctive;
  • Scandalous or contrary to law;
  • Likely to deceive or cause confusion; or
  • Identical or similar to registered trademarks.

This process takes usually 3 to 4 months after filing the application. If there are no grounds for rejection your trademark will be registered and the trademark will be entered into the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks (AOJTM) and listed under the ATMOSS.

Registered Trademark = Protected Business Name

Now that your business name is a registered trademark it will be protected throughout Australia for an initial period of 10 years, and may be continually renewed. As a trademark owner, international applications of your business name will be quick and simple. With a trademarked business name you can now promote, expand and enhance the value of your business locally and globally.

LawPath has access to highly qualified IP attorneys that can help trademark your business name. Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or any other legal needs

Zachary Swan

Zachary is a marketing co-ordinator at LawPath assisting the content team. With a keen interest in digital media and IP law, he has completed a Bachelor of Law and Communications at the University of Wollongong.