Business Name overhaul – hidden traps for Charities & Not for Profits

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The migration of responsibility for business names from the States to the Commonwealth has introduced significant efficiency to this arena.

The situation is clear enough for those operating a “business” in the traditional sense of that word but charities ought to be very careful that no “trading names” are used that are not identical to the actual name of their entity.

Trading names”, as this term has been understood since the Australian Business Register (ABR) came into effect (http://abr.business.gov.au/), will not be appearing soon, only registered business names will appear along with the lawful entity name under its ABN.  Up until now some entities have adopted a preferred name, albeit not registered, and have included that in the ABR. This practice is now unlawful and significant penalties apply.

Even if the “trading name” only differs from the entity name by omitting the legal suffix such as “Ltd” the entity will still be in breach. For example, the legal entity may be XYZ College Ltd and it trades as XYZ College – this is a breach and XYZ College should be registered as a business name. Problems are going to arise if the business name that you have built significant goodwill in is not available for registration. Therefore you should move quickly to seek to register your trading names as business names and if the business names you want are not available contact us for advice about the options open to you.

Legislative requirements in relation to the display of a registered business name and its use in documents must also be complied with, with penalties for non-compliance.

It should be stressed that the requirement to register a business name does not amount to a protection of the name, the issues are distinct. Protection of the name requires registration of a trade mark.

If you have a query about your Not for Profit & Charity Business name, contact us

Please contact our client engagement team for an appointment with one of our Not for Profit & Charity lawyers, if you require assistance with the registration of a business name or a trade mark.