Perhaps it is the malady brought on by watching shows like ‘Law & Order’ which has so caused business to literally swamp itself in litigation, but it seems to me that we are no longer responsible for ourselves and we need someone to blame for our own stupidity.

Whatever it is, I have lately experienced a new high in stubbornness when discussing the subject of a company’s name title. It seems I cannot convince the small business community that because one registers a business name, one automatically owns it.

So if you need it in writing – here it is. Registration of a name, including shelf company names and ‘Pty Ltd’ names does not constitute ownership of your business name. That’s right folks, the only form of ownership is by Trade Mark application. And now, as of June 2012, adding yet further complications to an already confused paradigm, the Federal Government will launch a new national business name registration service.

This will replace the current state and territory services so that businesses only need to register its name with a single body. The new service will commence 28th May 2012 (subject to the passage of legislation through state parliaments). The new service is managed by the Australian Securities and Investment Services (ASIC) and you’ll have the option of registering or renewing a business name at a cost of $30.00 per year or $70.00 per three years.

If you’re already have a registered business name you need do nothing – your name will be automatically transferred to the national business names register. If you need further information visit

But just as a final warning, you’ll be registered nationally but you will not own the name, the only way to own your name is to register it as a Trade Mark. Oh yes, if someone else registers your name as a trade mark the only course of action you’ll have is to engage in some of that good old litigation – and the likelihood of you winning is pretty remote.

Please note: This does not constitute legal advice. Should you need further professional advice, we advise that you consult your solicitor or a Patent Attorney.