Go 'live' date
Since the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’ (ASIC) commenced administration of the new national business names register (Register) on 28 May 2012 (Commencement Date), a number of procedures for searching and registering have been streamlined, although, as is often the case in regulatory changes, there are some transitional issues for registered holders.
- Migration of business names - On the Commencement Date, all existing business names were automatically migrated from the former State and Territory based regimes to ASIC. If your business name was registered in more than one state or territory prior to the Commencement Date, you will now have multiple identical names. In circumstances where ASIC is able to determine that an individual/entity is the holder of identical business names, ASIC is rationalising such business names into the one entry on the Register.
Applying for a new business name - To register a new business name you must:
- create an ‘ASIC Connect’ account on ASIC’s website by completing an online application – this takes between 15-20 minutes; and
- hold an Australian Business Number (ABN).
You may apply for a business name 24 hours a day seven days a week. Previously no ABN was required.
Searching on the Register - The following searches may be made on the Register:
- the ‘business name index search’ – this allows access to information ASIC holds about a particular business name;
- the ‘business name holder – organisation search’ – this allows a searching for an corporation to see what business names they hold;
- the ‘business name holder – person search’ – this allows searching for an individual business name holder (i.e. a sole trader/individual) to see what business names they hold; and
- the ‘business name availability search’ – this allows searching on the availability of a business name.
- Renewing a business name - Prior to the expiry of existing business name registrations, ASIC will write to holders notifying them of the impending expiration date. To renew your business names, you must login to ASIC Connect and complete the relevant eForm.
- Does this change the need to register a business name? – In most circumstances, unless certain statutory exemptions apply, if you are entitled to an ABN based on the nature of your business, you will be ‘carrying on a business’ for the purposes of the Business Names Registration Act 2011 (Cth). If your business is conducted under your own individual name or the company name, no registration is required. If a different name is used then you must register a business name.
- Intellectual property considerations -Registering a business name does not in itself give any exclusive rights over the use of that name - only a trade mark can give that kind of protection. Accordingly, to ensure that you have the exclusive use of your business name now and in the future throughout Australia you should apply for a trade mark with IP Australia.
Review of the Register to date
As of late July 2012, ASIC had received over 32,000 applications for new business names. Of that amount, approximately one third of the new business name applications have been received outside of “regular” business hours, suggesting that the community is logging in when it is convenient to them.