What’s in a name? Or should we say, what ASIC won’t allow in your name

Choosing a name for a new company is hard. It is such a crucial element of your business, but coming up with a name that is creative, relevant to the business, unique and unused takes some serious work. We found a fantastic article that can help guide you through that process: Before naming your startup, read this. While this article is focused on start-ups, the principles work for any business.company_brand_naming

On top of finding a good name, you also need to ensure that the words and characters in your name will be accepted by ASIC. Here are ASIC’s restrictions on names:

  • The name cannot already be registered.
  • It cannot be identical to another name already registered.
  • It cannot include prohibited words or phrases, or those that are offensive or could imply a relation to a government or similar organisation.

When we receive your order, we do a thorough check to ensure that the name you request meets each of ASIC’s requirements. That is one of the many services that we are proud of – you can find more details of this here.

However, in order to ensure that your company order proceeds as quickly as possible, we thought you may find it useful to understand what words and phrases ASIC does not accept.

Invalid characters

ASIC accepts all numbers, letters as well as the prescribed special characters here. Note that ASIC will not allow you to use any accented characters, for example: ç, è, é, á and ü.

When ASIC registers your company or business name, it will only use numbers and uppercase letters. All accents are removed and lowercase letters are not permitted.

Undesirable words or expressions

This means that you will not be able to get the name you want if it:

  • is likely to be offensive to members of the public or any section of the public
  • suggests illegal activity, or
  • is misleading in that it suggests a connection with a prescribed entity (see next section for further information).

Restricted words or expressions

There are certain words and phrases that cannot be used in company names without Ministerial consent. If you have a connection with a prescribed entity and wish to imply that in the name, Ministerial consent is then required. This takes approximately six months and can be expensive.

Some examples of these words include:'Restricted' fingers

  • ‘building society’
  • ‘trust’
  • ‘university’
  • ‘chamber of commerce’, and
  • ‘chartered.

You also cannot use words suggesting a misleading connection with government, the Royal Family or an ex-servicemen’s organisation. ASIC puts these restrictions in place to ensure a company’s name does not mislead people about its activities.

Possible problems with similar names

You may also need to check if the name you would like is similar or identical to any registered or pending trademarks. You can check the IP Australia website to find out.

ASIC considers it your responsibility to be aware of any problems that might arise from names already registered which are similar to, or likely to be confused with, the name you register. ASIC will register a name if it considers it to be unique. If it is similar to an existing name, the owner of that name is entitled to assert its rights to that name.

This is one of the services we provide at Castle: We carefully review every order and review the name you have chosen. If we find any similar names that we think may potentially cause you issues further down the track, we give you a call to discuss some other options and confirm how you would like to proceed. While the responsibility still lies with you for the name you choose, we back you up by doing our best to double check that what you chose fits into ASIC’s restrictions and will help you register your company faster.

Using the Australian Company Number as a name

When you register your company, you can choose to simply use your ACN as your name. Simply select this option on our order form, and then you have more time to consider the best name for your company. When you have selected one, we can then help you change your company name.

Reserving a name

ReservedReserving a company name allows you to put a desired company name on hold so it cannot be registered by anyone else while you take the time to obtain the necessary information to proceed with your company’s registration.

ASIC allows you to reserve a company name for a period of two months.

You can reserve a name with Castle here.