In Australia, a brand can generally be registered as a trade mark, a business name or (in many cases) both. There are very significant differences between these types of registrations and these differences are poorly understood.
Under Australian law, if a person (or company) is trading under a name which is different from the real name, that trading name must be registered as a business name. The reason is so that members of the public can access the business names register and identify who is responsible for the business.
A business name registration is simply a statutory requirement. It does not provide any legally enforceable rights.
A trade mark registration, on the other hand, is not mandatory – but it provides strong legal rights. These rights enable the owner to prevent other persons from using the same or a similar name (in the same or a similar industry to that of the owner).
So, in essence, a business name registration is mandatory but provides no legal rights, whereas a trade mark registration is optional but provides strong legal rights.
Also, a business name registration can only relate to the name of a business, whereas trade mark registrations can also cover logos.
A trade mark registration also provides several other significant benefits – see Benefits of Trade Mark Registration.