If you carry on business under a name other than your own personal name, the Business Names Registration Act 2011 requires you to register your business name.
But registering your business name gives you very little protection against a competitor using a similar name.
Whereas the legislation forbids the registration of a name that is identical to, or nearly identical to, an existing registered name, there can be shades of grey in interpreting “nearly identical”.
A legislative determination provides that certain words are deemed to be the same as each other: for example, pub and tavern, and kindergarten and preschool.
A business name is identical to, or nearly identical to, another name if it may be pronounced the same as the other name: for example, Dollar Shop and $ Shop.
If you are aggrieved by a copycat business name, you may have a remedy through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, or under the Australian Consumer Law.
If you want more information on how to protect your intellectual property, contact Noel McNicol Smith on 9853 0311 or at [email protected].
This bulletin is provided for general information purposes only. Each person’s circumstances are different and the information contained in this bulletin should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice.