The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Got Protection For Your Business Name?
If you’ve spent time and energy getting your business up and running, you’ve no doubt found the perfect name. The name you’ve chosen represents your business and will draw in clients like bears to honey. However, as perfect as that name may sound to you, it could already belong to someone else. So, how do you know if your business name is protected?
What’s In a name?
If you’re a consultant or running a shop that has your own name in the title, you’re all set. Your own name is protected because it’s yours. If you have a common name, you may run into some issues and have to add a middle initial to your business name. You can specify what you do. For example if you’re a massage therapist, you may want to go with “Alex Wyler Massage Therapist”. This will get customers interested.
To find out if the business name you’ve chosen is available, try the Ontario Business Name Search. The Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has a databank that will give you precise searches for name matches of businesses that already exist in Ontario. The only thing this databank does not do is let you know if you are infringing on another corporation name or trademark in the rest of Canada.
If you want a more thorough search opt for NUANS Name Search. NUANS stands for New Updated Automated Name Search and features records for Canada in its entirety. A NUANS search will let you know exactly which names are available, however it does cost money to use this service.
Trademarks and Other Symbols
You’re probably already familiar with the ™ and R symbols. These are very important characters to look for when it comes to business name protection. If you’ve settled upon a name and it already has any of these symbols following the title, it’s off limits. Why? These symbols indicate ownership. Alternatively, if you want to protect your business name and you’ve got the all clear to use this name, you can protect it further by registering it and trademarking the name.
In the same vein as trademarks, avoid using obscene language, celebrity names (unless the celebrity in question has agreed to partner with you and has given consent for the use of their name), and the words “University”, “College”, or “Institute”. Scholastic enterprises and corporations need special permission and accreditation to be able to call themselves actual schools.
Don’t Forget to Register
No matter what name you choose, it will need to be registered within the province of Ontario. The province does not offer name protection for small businesses, which is why it’s always best to make sure your name is original and not already in use. Do not risk being sued by another business just because you’re fond of your name.
About the Author
Business, entrepreneurship, and law are three of my greatest passions. My favorite mentor to follow, and someone who I look up to greatly is Warren Buffett. I make sure to continuously conduct research and keep myself informed on recent news and trends surrounding my fields of interest. This guarantees that I don’t miss out any important findings that will help progress my profession. My favorite book is “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham.
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