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    I have a fairly long business name (3 words), which for various reasons, I’m hesitant to change. However, at the same time, it can be a bit of a mouthful to say.

    More and more I’ve started to refer to my business in initial form (eg ABC rather than Alpha Beta Charlie). I’m currently in the process of rebranding, and one thought I have had is to just make the logo the abbreviated letter form.

    I’ve seen this done in other businesses in similar situations (eg they refer in full initially to their business name, but for the most part, they refer to it in abreviated form – including the logo).

    I wondered about the legalities of doing this. Would it require a separate registration or trading as setup?

    • Total posts: 26

    Hi rethinking,

    The main requirements about names come from:

    • your state or territory’s business names legislation. Broadly, the requirements are that if you “carry on a business” under a name (other than your own personal or company name), then you need to register that name as a business name. There are also requirements to use the full registered name on publications and documents, and display it at your place of business.
    • requirements under the GST legislation that tax invoices contain sufficient information to allow the issuing supplier’s identity (ie, its full name) to be clearly ascertained.
    • if you have a company, there’s a requirement in the Corporations Act that a company’s full name and ACN (in addition to any business name) be set out on its public documents.

    So the risk in using an abbreviation is that, if that is all you use (ie, if you do not use the full name in a particular document or publication) then (a) you may not be complying with the requirement to use your registered name, and (b) you may in fact be carrying on business under the abbreviation – giving rise to a requirement to register the abbreviation.

    My suggestion to you would be:

    1. decide if you want to keep your full name, or be known as the abbreviated name;
    2. if you want to keep the full name, make sure the full name is used at least once on your publications and docs, and then you can use the abbreviation for subsequent mentions (eg, the first time in each doc, use ‘Alpha Bravo Charle (“ABC”)‘ and then just use ‘ABC‘ after that);
    3. in terms of the logo specifically, there is no real problem using an abbreviation as part of the logo, provided that you use the full name as required – see (b) above;
    4. if do you decide to change to the abbreviation, stop using the full name and register the abbreviation as your business name going forward.

    If you are going to change your business name registration, note that a particular three letter abbreviation is more likely to be in use by another business than a particular three word name, so make sure the abbreviation you want is available for registration as a business name before you implement the change. Also, think about what internet domain name you’ll use and whether it’s available.

    Whether or not you are going to change your business name registration, you might want to check the trade marks register to make sure use of the abbreviation is not infringing someone else’s trade mark rights. If the abbreviation is available, you might want to think about registering it as a trade mark yourself, to prevent a competitor using it later.

    It’s often worth the effort to seek specific legal advice from a specialist IP lawyer such as my firm Brightline Lawyers, because there’s a bit of legal complexity there, and because your name embodies so much of the goodwill and reputation of your business.

    I hope that helps.

    Best regards,
    Patrick Sefton

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