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Understanding How a Business Name and a Trade Mark Differ

You’ve put your heart and soul into creating your e-commerce business so it makes sense to do everything you can to protect it. You’ve laboured over your business name, you’ve created a logo that perfectly reflects your company and its message, you’ve spent hour upon hour developing your e-commerce site and you’ve worked hard to arrange your products and logistics. Moving forward in this quickly evolving market, you have to work continuously to overcome obstacles relating to production, logistics, increasing costs and, of course, your competitors.

As such, it’s imperative to protect your brand. So how exactly can you do this? First, you need to understand the importance of your business name, what a trade mark is and how they can be used together to safeguard your intellectual property.


What is a business name?

A business name is one that you choose for your business when you don’t want to use your own name. It’s the official name you trade under and is how others identify your business. This name must be legally registered in order to trade under it. You can check ASIC Connect to see if your business name is available.

Once you have registered your business name, it cannot be registered by anyone else. However, that doesn’t mean your brand is protected. A slight difference (i.e. Jan’s Pilates or Jan’s Yoga & Pilates) can allow a name very similar to yours to be registered by another business.

What’s more, if there is a registered trade mark over your chosen business name, the trade mark will likely trump and could result in a costly trade mark infringement.


What is a trade mark?

A trade mark ensures your brand has legal protection. Your brand is not just your business name but also your logo, tagline, packaging details, product names, specific services, symbols, sounds and your company’s colour scheme. This form of protection for your intellectual property can cover any element of your brand or combined elements if you prefer.

Whilst you don’t have to officially register your trade mark, it’s recommended to do so as this provides comprehensive protection for your brand. If someone copies any element of your trade mark brand without your permission, you can seek legal recourse via your registered trade mark. Below, we’ve detailed the key reasons for applying for a trade mark.


3 Reasons to Have a Trade Mark


1. Protect the identity of your brand

The e-commerce industry is booming. This is great for your business on the one hand but means you’re up against much stiffer competition on the other. It’s crucial to protect your business name and brand as a whole. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, which benefits from passing trade and allows for face-to-face contact with your customers, your brand has to stand out among the sea of e-commerce businesses to ensure consistent trade.

The products you sell or services you offer are the core of your business but you also need to establish trust in your brand and build up a loyal customer base. The upside to having an e-commerce business is that you’re not reliant on being in a good location or having to operate within specific hours. Instead of customers choosing you because of having a local store, you benefit from a worldwide customer base and can make sales 24 hours a day. But when customers surf the Internet to find what they’re looking for, your brand needs to stand out over others so that they’re compelled to choose yours. As they can’t see your products or services in person, your brand needs to showcase reliability and quality.

To achieve this, use your business name, brand details and trade mark to emphasize your brand’s identity. Build on this so that your brand becomes easily recognisable and use your registered trade mark to promote trust in your brand.


2. Enhance your brand recognition

A trade mark protects your brand but having one also highlights the goodwill of your business. With a trade mark in place, your business is perceived to be more trustworthy and this helps to increase customer loyalty. A trade mark is a valuable asset for your business to have and can comprise a considerable percentage of what you eventually sell your e-commerce business for. If you think about a brick-and-mortar store, you’d have the property, equipment, products and other physical assets. With your e-commerce business, your assets are mostly intangible. A trade mark, therefore, not only helps to boost the value of those assets but, as another intangible asset, adds a significant value itself.


3. Benefit from exclusivity

The protection offered by a trade mark gives you exclusive rights over your business. It protects your business name so that others cannot use it and protects the aspects of your brand that are included within your trade mark. This prevents them from being copied and used by others without your knowledge and permission. You have the legal right to challenge applications for trademarks that are similar to yours and to stop the negative use of your brand by those who have unlawfully copied it. This ensures the value of your business remains intact and you continue to enjoy a good reputation and build on consistent sales.


Register your Business Name and Trade Mark

Before you register your business name, you need to check that it doesn’t clash with other Australian business names and that it hasn’t already been trademarked. Once these checks have been verified, you can register your chosen business name on the business.gov.auwebsite.


You can choose to register your trade mark yourself via IP Australia or you can benefit from using our services to do this complex task on your behalf, saving you time and stress. At Law by Design, we ensure that the registration process is completed accurately and to your exact brand requirements. We check the trade mark register beforehand to ensure you’re not infringing on another trade mark and are therefore unlikely to come up against any opposition during the registration period.


For peace of mind that the business name you desire has been correctly registered and that this name – along with other aspects of your brand – is protected by your trade mark, get in touch with us today. Call us on 0468 531 009 or send us an email at heidi@lawbydesign.com.au. If you prefer, send your details to us via our contact form and we’ll reply to you with more information about our range of legal services that can benefit your business.

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