Saturday, 29 October 2016

What's in a Business Name? Not a Lot, Apparently

Read about more idiocy and nastiness from people in the Australian paranormal industry.
Back in 2012 I was emailed by a person I had never heard of before who runs 'Moonlight Haunted Tours' down in Adelaide. At the time I helped to run the 'Moonlight Tours' of South Brisbane Cemetery, and this person (without introducing themselves) demanded to know if our 'Moonlight Tours' was a registered business name. Past experience with 'paranormal industry' types set the alarm bells ringing and I knew straight away where this was all heading. I played dumb and asked why he wanted to know, and sure enough it was suggested to me that our tour name was a "breach of registration of business law". He asserted that our name was "too close" to his registered business name and "may cause some confusion for clients".

I was somewhat surprised to hear that anybody could possibly confuse tours in Adelaide and Brisbane, which are over 1,600 km and four states apart. I let that go, and did about 30 seconds of research on the federal government website and found out that:
"Registering a business name does not in itself give you any exclusive rights over the use of that name - only a trade mark can give you that kind of protection."
As I suspected this person was up to no good, I continued to give non-answers to his questions. Obviously frustrated, he then claimed to have spoken to an officer at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), who allegedly told him that our tour name was illegal as it was too close to his business name. This strange claim directly contradicted the information available on the ASIC website. The alleged advice seemed even stranger considering that ASIC also listed 'Moonlight Tours' as an openly available business name.

With the situation getting increasingly ridiculous, I told him we would be happy to take the required action if he could get ASIC to forward me the information, or perhaps he could point out the relevant section in the legislation himself. After all, if you want to accuse someone of breaking the law, start by pointing out exactly which law it is they have broken. It turned out to be a 'put up or shut up' that resulted in a shut up.

While I had the technical points covered almost from the start and found it more amusing than stressful, but what I couldn't understand was the WHY of it all. What motivates someone to try and make life difficult for a group of volunteers - total strangers - running occasional not-for-profit tours on the other side of the country? Especially when his desired outcome would bring no obvious benefit to his own business anyway.

This was in fact the third time that I had been subject to such behaviour, and each time it was by a different 'paranormal group'. I know some very good people who identify as 'paranormal researchers', but this kind of behaviour by others reflects very poorly on their 'industry'. The harassment may be water off a duck's back to us, but it's not appreciated.

The above is abridged from an article originally published in August 2012.

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