Removing state boundaries in new Australian business name registration
From 4 April 2011, subject to legislation being passed by each state and territory, a new National Business Names Registration system will commence in Australia. Under the new system business names will be registered nationally. Currently, business name registrations in Australia are state and territory based, which means that business names must be registered in compliance with the laws and fees of each state and territory that a business seeks to operate in.
Under the proposed new system, business names will be registered provided they are not identical to an existing company or business name, do not contain offensive, prohibited or restricted words, and are not likely to mislead or deceive consumers and traders. Identical business names which have been registered under the current state and territory registration systems will be allowed to co-exist on the Register. A geographic designation will be added to distinguish these businesses on the Register; however the geographic designation will not become part of the business name. Additionally, the new system will allow registration of a business name that differs from another business name only by geographical indicator, regardless of whether or not there is a relationship between the businesses. Examples of this are: Jane’s Plumbing and Jane’s Plumbing Ringwood, and Kraven Newsagency and Warley Newsagency.
Importantly for franchised businesses, the system does not require the franchisee to supply the written permission of the franchisor to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission to obtain registration of a franchise name.
Under the proposed new system, the expansion across state and territory borders of formerly state and territory based businesses can be achieved without applying for new business name registrations. Importantly, this means that from 2011 trade mark owners will need to be more vigilant in monitoring the marketplace activities of other businesses, because relying upon the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Register will not be as useful in indicating the expansion of business.