Naming, Branding, and Trademarking your business in Ontario is an important step in establishing your brand. Once you have found the perfect business name, you will want to protect it. In Ontario, sole proprietors, partnerships and corporations may carry on business under a name other than the corporation’s legal name. If you do, then you must register under Ontario’s Business Names Act (the “Act”). The registration process is fairly straightforward: applicants must complete and file a form and pay the registration fee of $90.00. Failure to register constitutes an offence and offenders may be fined up to $2,000 in the case of individuals, and $25,000 in the case of corporations. It is important to note that all business documents must clearly state the full name of the corporation, as well as the business name.

What may not be straightforward, however, is protecting your business name. Business owners often falsely believe that registration under the Act will provide protection against other businesses and/or individuals operating under a confusingly similar name. However, the Act does not give the business owner exclusive rights to the business name. It only provides a registry of business names and aims to prevent the public from being misled or deceived. The business owner must also ensure the name does not infringe the rights of a trademark, as it could led to a claim of trademark infringement.

If you wish to protect your business name, you should consider registering a trademark. Trademarking your business in Ontario is an important step for your business. Trademarks can be one or many words, sounds or designs used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others. A registered trademark holder has the exclusive right to use the mark across Canada for 15 years, and a right of renewal. Registered trademarks must be used, however, and Industry Canada will want confirmation that the mark is in use. Failure to use the mark for a certain length of time could compromise your registration, and may lead to its removal from the Register of Trademarks.

If you are a Canadian business incorporating and would like to talk about how to set up a business and brand it and trademark it, feel free to contact J.P. McAvoy of ConductLaw at our Ottawa office.

ConductLaw is an Ottawa based business law firm with locations in Ottawa, Barrhaven and Kanata.  Our professionals are experienced business lawyers who can help with commercial real estate, liens, incorporations, trademarking or implementing corporate structures that manage tax obligations, whether as a corporation, partnership, family trust, testamentary trust, or any other type of legal entity.

ConductLaw is an Ottawa based business law firm with three locations in the Ottawa area to serve clients.  Feel free to call or write one of our professionals at or 613.440.4888 for all of your business, commercial, real estate and estate planning needs.