Difference Between Trade Marks and Business Names

A trade mark and a business name have different purposes and will protect your business in different ways.

A business name is only used to identify your business. Registering your business name doesn't give you full rights over that name-only a trade mark can give you full rights.

See the explanations below to help you understand the differences.

Business name:

  • A business name is the name under which your business operates and is connected to your Australian Business Number (ABN).
  • You only need to register a business name if you are trading under a name that is not your own.
  • Registration of your business name registers it nationally. You only need to register once even if you trade in multiple states.
  • You cannot register a business name that is identical or too similar to a business name registered to another Australian business or company.

A business name does not give you legal rights to that name. This means that if someone else uses your business name for their business, you don't have any rights to stop them.

Trade mark:

  • A trade mark legally protects your name and stops others from trading with it.
  • When you register a trade mark you get exclusive use of that trade mark throughout Australia.
  • A trade mark is protected in all Australian states and territories for an initial period of 10 years.
  • Being an Australian trade mark owner makes it easier to apply for a trade mark in other countries.

If you need exclusive use of your business name, you should register it as a trade mark.

Want to know more about trade marks?

IP Australia’s Trade Mark Assist will help you:

  • understand the basics
  • explore your proposed trade mark
  • identify common mistakes before you apply.

Go to Trade Mark Assist

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