This is the biggest intellectual property myth in the business community and it catches out a lot of business owners and start-up founders every year: Business and company names are NOT trade marks (see the snippet below abr.gov.au).
As the saying goes: if I had a dollar for every time a business owner told me, “Well, I’ve already registered the business name…”; or “We already have the company name…” Having a business or company name means you have complied with state or federal laws regarding establishing a business or a company.
Crucially, if your business or company name is not a registered trade mark:
ONE: You may potentially be infringing a previously registered trade mark owned by another individual or business. [RISK]
TWO: You may be missing out on securing your own federally granted monopoly, which could be hugely valuable to you, particularly in the future if you want to sell the business. [OPPORTUNITY]
Frankly, this is what worries me about the many business-in-a-box online registration services because most do NOT include the warning that business and company names are not trade marks. This warning is visible on the govt’s ABR website (althought clearly not everyone sees it there either).
Unfortunately, many accountants are also not aware of the difference so it’s not uncommon to hear from new clients who have discovered that their new name is not protectable and they’ve been forced to rebrand and start all over again.
If your business and/or company name is not a registered trade mark, the first place to start is with a comprehensive professional search of the Trade Marks Register. Please contact us to arrange a complimentary trade mark search.