Business Name vs. Trademark: What Does Each Protect?

Business Name vs. Trademark: What Does Each Protect?

Category: Trademark Information

A business is nothing without its name. Your brand name is what your customers know you by and what differentiates you from others in your industry. However, with millions of businesses, big and small, around the world, it’s not uncommon for one brand to have the same name as another.

While businesses with the same name can coexist without any fuss, especially if they’re operating in different fields and locations, problems may arise if one of them is big or popular. Such was the case that American fast food chain McDonald’s won against MacCoffee, a top coffee brand in the Middle East and Russia with distributions in Asia and the U.S.

Cases such as this prove why it’s essential for businesses to learn about brand names and trademarks. Understanding them can help you better protect the name of your brand and, ultimately, the success of your business.

Registering a Business Name

A business name is the name you use commercially. If you trade under a name different to your personal name, then you need to register that business name under which you will be trading.  This is so the Government knows who is behind a name.    It’s what the public knows you by, what differentiates you from others and you use to promote your goods or services.   It can also be a brand name which can be registered as a trade mark.

So when starting a business, you need to register the name with the National Business Names Register, which the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) manages. To avoid complications before you even launch, you can go to ASIC’s business name register and look up the name you want to use. This helps you determine whether your preferred business name has already been registered by another organisation.

Although you can register a business name, that registration does not give you ownership of the name.   This means you can’t prevent another business from operating under a very similar name. This is where trademark registration serves its purpose.

Registering for a Trademark

The best way to protect your business name is to register it as a trademark. When your business name is trademarked, you have exclusive legal rights to its use and can take steps to avoid business name identity theft by a competitor.  Apart from your business name, you can also trademark the names of your products or services, assuming that they haven’t already been registered as a trademark. What’s more, you can—and should—trademark your logo. Trademarking your logo, which includes the fonts and colours you use, not only protects it from being used by other organisations, it also protects you from infringing upon an existing and already-trademarked logo.

Let’s say your planned design has a checkmark that looks suspiciously close to Nike’s Swoosh. If you try to use it in business in the same business field, the athletic apparel company may sue you.

In the same vein, if some company uses a logo similar to your trademarked one, you may stop them from doing so, given that you registered that logo for trademark first and that you’re consistently using that trademarked logo. If the other party can prove that your trademark isn’t being used, they may file for a removal application on the basis of non-use. This means your registration can be removed from the trademark Register and you lose rights to your trademarked  name and or logo.

Protect Your Business with a Trademark Now

It’s not easy to build a business from the ground up, run it and establish its reputation. That is why you must protect it at all cost. With a trademark registration, you’ll have the protection you need—and Pinnacle TMS can help. We’re one of Australia’s leading Trademark Specialists, dedicated to helping you register and manage your trademark. Contact us on +61 2 9520 4366 today for assistance.