Business Names Register

The Business Names Registration Act 2011 (Cth) is paving the way to a new, consolidated national register of business names. Under the present system, each state and territory controls its own independent register, and organizations operating in different jurisdictions are required to register their names separately in each.

The new national register will remove the cost and inconvenience of separate registration by creating one central depository of information. All the existing state registers will be incorporated into the Business Names Register administered by ASIC, and because it will be online, it will also allow for convenient registration of new names, updating of business details and searching of existing businesses.

The new Business Names Register is proposed to come into effect on 28 May 2012, pending all States and Territories passing the relevant legislation. If your business name is on a state register on that date, you do not need to do anything to be included.

If your business name is already registered in more than one state or territory, all your existing business names will be transferred to the Business Names Register, but you may choose to keep just one of the records and cancel the others at no cost. Keeping only one business name will reduce your administrative burden and enable customers to more easily identify your organization on the register.

Although the new Register will make administration simpler in the long term, there will possibly be many disputes over duplicate or similar names during the early phase. If your name reflects that of a large company, especially if its business is in the same field as yours, you may face legal action. Therefore we advise that you take adequate steps to protect your organization by ensuring that your trademarks and business names are registered, your trading history is well documented and you are complying with all ASIC and State government requirements.

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