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Have you thought of a great company name that you intend to use but are not quite ready to incorporate your company? Or perhaps you already have a company and plan to change its name but are not ready to proceed with the name change just yet? If so, then you can apply to ASIC to reserve the company name you have in mind. The effect is that no one else can take the name before you are ready to incorporate your company or change your name. This article will explain the process to reserve a company name so that you can protect a name you intend to use in the future.

Is the Name Available?

Searching ASIC

First of all, you need to confirm that the name you have in mind is available. A good starting point is to check ASIC’s registers. From here, select the dropbox next to ‘Within’ in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Next, select ‘Organisation and Business Names.’ In the search bar immediately below, type in the name you intend to use. This will bring up all company names and business names identical (or similar) to the name you searched. Of course, if the name you had in mind is already a registered business name or company name, you will not be able to reserve the name. 

Just because there is already a company or business with the name you searched does not mean it is unavailable. Check the ‘Status’ column to see if the name is ‘Registered’ or ‘Deregistered’. If the company or business is deregistered, the name may be available to you for reservation.

Searching the ABR

You can also search the Australian Business Register (ABR) to see if an existing business has already taken the name you have in mind. On their website, you can enter the name you intend to use in the search bar. This search will bring up a list of businesses, companies and other entities using your searched name.

Searching IP Australia

Finally, it is also worth checking IP Australia to see if someone has a registered trademark over the name you intend to use. A trademark is a special form of IP protection that grants the owner an exclusive right to use a name or logo. 

Even if another business or a company has not taken the company name you intend to use, you should not reserve the name if there is a registered trademark over it. Likewise, if the other person or business works in a similar industry to you, you should not waste time reserving the name. Even though ASIC will allow the reservation (and you will even be able to incorporate the company with the name), the trademark owner will have a legal right to demand you stop using the name if they ever find out.

You can search IP Australia, entering the name you intend to use in the search bar. If someone already has a registered trademark over the name you intend to use and works in a similar industry to you, you should not reserve the company name.

Trademark protection extends to names that are deceptively similar – not just identical. If the name you intend to use is already a registered trademark, you cannot get around it by simply changing a single letter.

My Name Is Available. What Next?

Assuming the name you intend to use is available, you can apply to ASIC to reserve the company name for you. The process will differ depending on whether you are reserving the name for a new company or an existing one.

New Company

You might be trying to reserve a company name for a company that does not exist yet. In this case, download a copy of a Form 410 and complete the details. In section 3, ‘Purpose of reservation’, tick the following:

  • new registration; 
  • Australian company; and 
  • Chapter 2A – Part 2A.1, a new Australian company. 

Next, print out a copy of the completed form and sign and date (with pen) in the ‘Signature’ section on page 3. You should then mail the original, signed copy of the form to ASIC at:

Australian Securities and Investments Commission
PO Box 4000, Gippsland Mail Centre VIC 3841

You must include the payment of $51 when lodging the form, either by cheque or money order.

Existing Company

Suppose you are reserving a company name for an existing company (whose name you intend to change). In that case, you can either follow the same process as above for new companies (except you will choose ‘Change of name’ in section 3 instead of ‘New registration’). 

However, an easier option is to log into ASIC connect using your company’s corporate key and lodge a form online. ASIC has prepared a helpful user guide that takes you through this process step-by-step (including screenshots).

Key Takeaways

You can reserve a company name with ASIC if you: 

  • intend to use the name for a new company but are not ready to incorporate it yet; or 
  • have an existing company whose name you are not ready to change just yet.

Before reserving a company name, check ASIC, the ABR and IP Australia to ensure someone else does not already have any rights over the name. If the company name is available, you can reserve the company name by lodging a Form 410 with ASIC. For more information on your startup and the various processes to set up a company, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I search for an available business name?

There are three websites you can visit to search for a business name’s availability. You can search on the ASIC Register, the Australian Business Register or through IP Australia.

Why would I want to reserve a company name?

There are two main reasons why you might want to reserve a company name. First, perhaps you intend to use the name for a new company but are not ready to incorporate it yet. Alternatively, you may already have an existing company whose name you are not ready to change just yet.

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