An entity that carries on business in Ontario under a name other than its corporate name (i.e., the name appearing on its articles of incorporation) is required to register such name under the Business Names Act (Ontario). Similar requirements exist in the other Canadian provinces and territories.
Registration of Business Name
Registration of a name under the Business Names Act (Ontario) is accomplished by completing the prescribed form and paying the applicable fee. Registration is effective for five years and can be renewed for successive five year terms by paying the applicable renewal fee.
It is important to note that the registration of a name under the Business Names Act (Ontario) does not provide the registrant with the exclusive right to use the name. A corporation wishing to secure rights in its business name should consider filing a trademark in respect of the name.
Use of Business Name
A corporation that has registered a name under the Business Names Act (Ontario) may identify itself to the public using such name, including on its:
- letterhead and correspondence, provided the contents of such correspondence do not constitute a contract, invoice, negotiable instrument or order for goods or services;
- signage, such as stationary, business cards, facility signage, packaging, and uniforms; and
- sales and marketing materials, such as brochures, advertising, websites, and trade show displays, provided such materials do not create legal obligations.
Notwithstanding the registration of a name under the Business Names Act (Ontario), a corporation is required to set out its full corporate name in all contracts, invoices, negotiable instruments and orders involving goods or services issued or made by the corporation.
In the Province of Quebec, there are additional requirements imposed by The Quebec Charter of the French Language which requires that a corporation register and maintain a French version of its name and display the French version of its name at least as prominently on all documentation as the non-French version of the name.
If you have any questions about business name registrations, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be pleased to discuss how your business uses its business name, the limits and requirements, and any other questions you may have regarding the above or any other matter.