One of the first things most new businesses do is choose their “brand”. However, it is not widely known or understood that reserving a company name and obtaining rights to use it with the Companies Office does not give you full and exclusive rights to move forward with it.

The Companies Office, when approving a company name, will approve it on the basis that it is “different enough” from other registered companies.  However, its guidelines on what is “different enough” are not the same as assessing whether it infringes another’s rights in the name/brand.

For example, although we have operated under the brand RAINEY COLLLINS for nearly 100 years, the Companies Office would allow the incorporation of companies such as RAINEY COLLINS LTD, RAINEY COLLINS 2018 LTD etc.

Despite their allowance of these company names, use of them would still be in breach of our trade mark.

We are seeing a flurry of new businesses being challenged in their continued use of their company name because it breaches existing businesses’ trade marks. These challenges either result in legal fees to defend the brand, or the extra costs involved with re-branding, which can be particularly hard to handle when in start-up mode.

Prior to entering the market, and incorporating your company with your preferred business name, seek advice as to existing similar or identical trade marks, and have your advisor undertake comprehensive market place searches so you can avoid costly challenges to your brand following your significant investment in it. We offer a fixed fee for this service. 

Kirsten Ferguson