A prospective client this week sought to register a name as a business name or company name. He did his own online name availability search… or so he thought.

On seeing an identical name on a business name register in another state he wondered if he should still proceed with the target name. It was still available as a domain name and trade mark… or so he thought.

I wrote on this topic in What trade mark professionals do. Today I had to be blunt. Here’s what I wrote.

You ask why pay a lawyer when you can search yourself online.

  • Well, on the ASIC and Trade Marks Register you’ve done what I call a “hunt and peck style search”. That’s not a proper search. It’s the type of Do-It-Yourself approach to name search work that leads a regular stream of new clients to our firm after their adopted name does not go to plan. For example, others use similar names or others attack them, and the client then wonders what went wrong. Simple, they avoided paying a small fee for advice, relative to the bigger fee for advice work in a dispute or arising from abandoning a name. They did inadequate search work, they did not create a name protection plan, and they often did little post name adoption work to protect the name.
  • ASIC, business name registers and IP Australia happily accept online application fees, they accept no responsibility as advisers on taking those fees. People use online form filing for company names and trade marks. It is deceptively simple. Yet there are many traps and many laws relevant to name adoption and protection.
  • What you are paying a lawyer for is our broader than “hunt and peck” search work. We consider similar and not necessarily identical names, descriptions of services on the trade marks register and more. Moreover, the search work is maybe 20% of the value-add for the job, the advice work referred to above is the other 80%. We carry out not just a name registration task, we also provide a name adoption and protection strategy.
  • We learn from search work what might work better for you in terms of such matters as what to register, how to register, and who should register. Further, we advise on how to represent the name, what IP notices to use and so forth. I describe the foregoing in combination as “legal design” work.

A search of “legal design” on this site brings up a page of references justifying professional advice.

Contact us with any questions or requests.

Noric Dilanchian