How Do I Find Out if a Business Name is Taken?
When starting a business, choosing your business name is one of the first things that comes to mind. Not only is having a business name a legal requirement, but it is also a great way to build your brand and stand out from competitors. Before you can register your business name, it is important you check if your business name is taken already by another company. This article will take you through the steps needed to find out if your business name is taken and how to secure your preferred business name.
How to Check if a Business Name is Available
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is Australia’s corporate, markets and financial services regulator. ASIC has a business name register where you can check if your proposed business name is identical or near-identical to another business name already registered. A business name that is identical or near-identical to another business or company name will not be available for you to use.
A number of rules apply when determining the availability of business names. You can find some of these rules in the table below:
|Pronunciation||‘Kidz +’ is considered the same as ‘Kids Plus’|
|Word order||‘Delicious Pizza’ is considered the same as ‘Pizza Delicious’|
|Words or expressions that are considered the same||‘%’ is considered the same as ‘percent’|
|Singular and plural words||‘Home’ will be considered the same as ‘homes’|
Business Name Availability Tests
ASIC conducts some tests to help them check if a business name is available to use. Aside from checking that your proposed business name is not identical or near-identical to an existing registered name, there are several other factors that determine whether or not you can use your proposed business name. Other factors that ASIC will consider are:
- unknown words. This may include misspelled words or made up words. ASIC will have to manually assess these words to check whether they can be used;
- undesirable words or phrases. You cannot use any offensive words or expressions in your business name;
- use of invalid characters. This includes special characters like the ‘greater than’ symbol (>) or accented characters (such as ç or è); and
- restricted words. This includes words such as ‘university’, ‘bank’ or ‘charity’. In order to use these restricted words in your business name, you must apply to ASIC and explain in writing why your business meets the relevant criteria to use the restricted word.
Registering Your Business Name
Once you have chosen your business name, you will need to register it. For new businesses, you can do this through the Australian Government’s Business Registration Service, where you must first register to get an Australian Business Number (ABN).
If you already have an ABN, you can apply for a business name directly through ASIC using ASIC Connect. Alternatively, you can choose to register your business name with a private provider such as your accountant or solicitor.
Other Things to Consider
Aside from searching to see if your business name is taken, there are a few other things to think about before selecting your business name. These include:
- making sure that your proposed business name does not infringe on any existing trade marks; and
- checking that your proposed business name is not already a website name.
Registering a business name does not give you the exclusive use of the name. It is a good idea to consider doing a trade mark search before deciding on your business name.
Your business name is an important part of your business. As well as being a legal requirement, your business name is what connects people to your brand and is an essential part of your business’s IP. If you have any questions about your business name or intellectual property, contact our experienced intellectual property lawyers on 1300 657 423 or fill out the form on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use ASIC’s free to use business name register to check if your proposed business name is taken, or is near-identical to another registered business name.
For new businesses, you will need to register your business name through the Australian government’s Business Registration Service. If you already have an ABN, you can apply for a business name through ASIC Connect.
You can reserve your company name by lodging an ‘Application for reservation of a name’ form (Form 410A) with ASIC. Once this application is approved, your reservation is valid for two months from the date of approval. There is a $51 fee to file this application.
When registering your business name, ASIC has several tests they will use to determine if your proposed business name is available for use. This includes checking if your proposed business name is identical or near-identical to another business, contains undesirable words or phrases, contains invalid characters, or contains restricted words.