Legal Briefs: Don't forget to protect name, brand

Business names and symbols should be registered with the relevant body.

Business names and symbols should be registered with the relevant body.

FOR many business owners, protecting the name and brand of their business is often an afterthought. 

However, the importance of providing a business with protection by registering a business name, a trademark or domain name cannot be overstated.

The name of a business and if relevant, its symbol, is what gives a business identity and will allow the business to form a reputation. 

Consumers associate trusted brands with their name or logo, which ultimately influences client retention and the marketability of the business's products or services.

Practically speaking, when consumers see a "tick" on a pair of shoes they instantly think of clothing giant Nike, while one cannot overestimate the power of well-known business names such as Jim's Mowing in the gardening market or Supercheap Auto in the motoring world.

A business name is the name under which any business operates. Any business owner can register their business name through ASIC for a small fee.

Once registered, all other businesses will be prevented from registering the name.

Registering either a business name or symbol with IP Australia provides a business with a greater form of protection. 

Not only does registration provide exclusive ownership of the name or symbol, the application process will also ensure one is not infringing an existing trademark.

With regards to domain names, the technological revolution has led consumers to go online when looking to buy products or obtain services. 

Failing to register a domain name from the outset may result in a separation between a business name and an online idenity that could result in the website becoming lost in cyberspace. 

Ultimately, failing to register a business name or to register a business name or logo may result in another business registering the same name or logo at a later date.

This may cause a business significant heartache in having to rebrand its image, resulting in a loss of identity in the marketplace. 

Therefore, anyone starting a business should consider the overall image of that business. 

They should carry out research into business names and domain names that are available and look to register them as soon as possible. 

This will ensure the business is afforded the brand protection it deserves and wreduce the chance of infringing the rights of a competing business.

Disclaimer:Readers should seek independent legal advice as this article is for information purposes only. Nick McConnell is a graduate lawyer at Beck Legal, Bendigo.

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