You can register your trade mark with IP Australia. I recommend registering your trade mark because the register constitutes proof of ownership. I will discuss trade marks in more detail in a later chapter. To search the IP Australia database is quite easy. If you search and you find the same name that is registered in the same class, it is unlikely it will be registerable. Before searching, establish what class of goods or services you have. You can find a list of the trade mark classes on the IP Australia website.
If you search for your company name as a trade mark, it may be available in one class but not the other another. There are many of the same, or similar registered as trade marks in IP Australia, but in different classes.
Go here to search your company name against the IP Australia trade marks register:
You also need to be aware of common law trade marks that don’t appear on the register. We discuss unregistered trade marks in further detail in a later chapter. The steps below will help you to find unregistered trade marks that are similar to or the same as the name you want to register. Remember, it is a good idea to get your lawyer to check the company name you wish to register is not infringing someone else’s trade mark.
Another essential step before you get your heart set on a company name is to check the domain name is available. Many people make a domain availability search as their first step before checking the company name availability. It is up to you which you want to do first. If the domain name is available, it is an indicator that the name is less likely to be a trade mark. Checking domain name availability is a preliminary check, not a conclusive one.
You can search and register a domain name with a domain name registrar. The registrar is a company that is authorised to sell domain names. VentraIP is a great Australian domain name registrar: www.ventraip.com.au
It is preferable to register your company domain name with a .com domain extension if you are targeting a global market. However, if you intend to sell products or services within Australia, a .com.au domain name will be perfect.
So now you have discovered that the company name, trade mark and domain name is available for registration, the next step is to do a good old-fashioned search of Google.
Google search is the best way to uncover any unregistered trade marks that you need to be aware of. Trade marks that have not already been registered do not usually pose as much risk as trade marks that have. Unregistered marks are generally used by small businesses or individuals that sometimes don’t understand the importance of registering their mark or don’t think about doing so. Beware though: unregistered trade mark owners can still have their rights enforced against a registered mark. So get proper advice.
When searching Google, enter the name you are checking for availability into the search box in inverted commas. For example, if you want to check if anyone is using the phrase MacroBits, you would enter this into the Google search box: “MacroBits”. Google will then search for that exact phrase. This search is more precise.
Remember, a trade mark can exist for a product or group of words as well as a company name. So be careful.
Now that you understand why it is best to register a company, it is worth considering adding an additional company for asset protection and tax benefits. In the next section, we will discuss how you can use this to your advantage.