What legal issues can arise when choosing a company name?

Choosing a name for your small business is not only important for establishing your brand, it is also necessary for registering your company.

While choosing a name might seem like a simple task, there are a range of different legal concerns that will need to be taken into account. Your company name, branding and domain name are all areas that require an understanding of intellectual property law.

Here are two of the most important legal aspects to consider if you are choosing a name for your small business.

Is your name unique?

Before attempting to register a business name, it is important to ensure no one else is already using it. A name that isn’t unique won’t be accepted when you try and register it with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Do you want to be the exclusive owner of a title?

One of the most common misconceptions around business names, even among business owners, is the difference between a business name and a company trademark. For owners, simply registering a business name doesn’t mean you own it, and other individuals can apply for names that might be very similar.

Company trademarks on the other hand, will need to be registered separately, and can be used to protect a word, letter, number or logo that is relevant to your organisation, such as a business name.

If you want to ensure that the name you have chosen for your business is also your intellectual property, you will need to register it through IP Australia. This step can also be useful for ensuring your original name isn’t inadvertently infringing on the intellectual property of any other businesses.

If you want help with any of the legal requirements involved in your commercial contracts, including advice on choosing and registering a company name, make sure you talk this over with a commercial lawyer.