There are many different ways to protect your business name in Canada, depending on what type of name you have and how you use it:
1. Incorporate your business as a named company.
When you incorporate your business, opt for a named versus a numbered company. In order to secure a name, your lawyer will have to conduct a NUANS name search to include in your application for incorporation. Sometimes, a number of NUANS name searches are required before the right name is found. Although this means more money up front, it also means more protection for your name down the road.
Once your incorporation is approved, neither the provincial nor the federal government will approve another entity for incorporation with your name. The federal government, in particular, will make it incredibly difficult for another entity to incorporate with a name that is even confusingly similar to yours.
2. Register your name as a formal business name.
Alternately, if you incorporate your business as a numbered company, you must register any business names that your business operates under. In the province of Ontario, this costs $60. Registering a business name gives your name a very basic layer of protection. Unfortunately, in Ontario, little to no vetting goes into this process, so other entities may register names that are similar to yours. The main purpose of a name registration, however, isn’t to protect your name, but to ensure that the public knows who they are doing business with.
3. Register your name as a trade-mark.
In some circumstances, your name can also be a trade-mark. Canadian trade-mark registration takes about 8-10 months and will cost you; however, when your trade-mark is registered, you will have a substantial amount of protection for your name. Initially, the registration provides protection for 15 years. After the expiry of 15 years, it can be renewed.
4. Register copyright in your name.
You may also have copyright in your name; however, copyright law sets an unclear bar for what is/is not copyrightable. For copyright to subsist in a work, it must be original. Sometimes generic words can be combined in an original way to create an original work. Alternately, names that are entirely made-up can be original. If you have copyright in your name, your protection is valid for life plus 50 years after the death of the name’s creator.
How Momentum Can Help
Please contact us today for a free consultation. We can advise you on how to best protect your name, based on the unique needs and capabilities of your company. We can also incorporate your business, and/or register your business name, trade-mark and/or copyright.