Before you start purchasing any business essentials, such as business cards, uniforms, signs, or stickers, you need to double-check that your future business name isn’t taken and infringing another trademark. You also need to check that the business name is available for use within your state. Even those who operate as sole traders or within a partnership often file for a DBA (‘doing business as’), which allows them to claim a unique trade name.
If you’re wondering how to find if a business name is taken, we want to explain it as simply as possible, while also offering ideas for if your preferred business name is taken.
How to Know if a Business Name is Taken
Business Names & Trading Names
If you’ve heard the term ‘trading name’, it refers to unregistered business names that were being used before the Australian Government introduced the National Business Names Register in 2012. As such, if a business began operating before this date, and under a different name to your legal name, your business is using a ‘trading name’ and does not have a registered business name.
For businesses wanting to continue using their trading name while operating, they will need to register the name through ASIC.
Business Name Websites & Registries
A great business name will help your customers remember who you are and help with building your company’s reputation. However, you need to make sure the name is available before you make any permanent decisions.
Undesirable Business Names
Before you ask “how to find if a business name is taken” there are a few other steps to consider. ASIC offers guidelines to help you understand whether your name is suitable for trading, such as whether it is considered undesirable or not.
Names considered undesirable may be offensive to members of the community or communities, or if they suggest a connection to the following (but not limited to):
- The Crown
- The Commonwealth Government
- The Government of a State or Territory
- A municipal or other local authority
- A department, authority, or instrumentality of the Commonwealth Government
- A department, authority or instrumentality of the Government of a State or Territory
- The government of a foreign country
- A member of the royal family
Restricted Words or Expressions
ASIC also determines whether a business name includes certain words or expressions that may mislead consumers and will not register that business name without consent from the relevant portfolio Minister or the Minister’s Delegate. This includes:
- Words or expressions that have the same or similar meaning
- Abbreviations of restricted words or expressions, and
- A restricted word that is embedded within a name
Words such as, for example, ‘Southbank Café’ contains the restricted word ‘Bank’ which may require specialised consent to use.
How to find if a business name is taken can be done simply through the ASIC Connect platform. You can choose to check the business name availability, type it into the search bar, which will bring up a list of names and similar names for you to browse. If your proposed name appears to be taken, you can make slight adjustments to your search, and see if it makes a difference.
If your alteration shows that the name is available, you will need to make sure there isn’t another business within the same trading category that has a similar name, any business name that is substantially the same, is not allowed to be registered as it infringes the other companies name.
Business Name Registration & Trademarking
If you haven’t registered for an ABN just yet, it’s best to get that out of the way before taking the next step. Now that you know how to find if a business name is taken, you can begin the registration process. This can either be done through the Australian Government Business Registration Service, which allows you to apply for other registrations as well, or the ASIC Connect account. This account will require you to submit a variety of information including your ABN, your proposed business name, the registration period and more. Once you have completed the form, you’ll make your payment and wait for the registration to be confirmed.
Although registering your business name offers a high level or protection, it doesn’t prevent other people from trading under the same name. Once you’ve registered your name, it’s recommended that you trademark your business name as well, which can be done through IP Australia.
Looking for Reliable Business Advice?
If you’re looking for business advice relating to asset protection, advisory, tax or SMSF accounting, the team at Taggart & Partners can help. By choosing us, you’re choosing a firm that prides itself on helping clients understand complex accounting stuff as simple as possible. At Taggart & Partners, we want to help clients like you, by investing our knowledge into your business and encouraging its success.
Do you want to know more about how to find if a business name is taken? Contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 07 3391 1188 and one of our friendly staff members will assist with getting you exactly what you’re after.