Shakespeare may not have had economic interests in mind when he raised the famed philosophical question “What’s in a name?” but nowadays, there is no doubt that business names are repositories for enterprise value.
While registration of a business name has its own requirements, it is important that when registering the business name, you ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this the name that we will print on our website, our business cards, and our marketing materials?
- Do we want people to recognize our product and services by this name?
- Do we plan to offer our goods or services to the public under a different name?
If the name you are registering will not be associated with your goods of services, all you need to worry about are the Registry requirements for the name registration.
However, if you want your business name to be recognized in association with your goods or services, corporate registry filings, whether federal or provincial, do not adequately protect business names.
You should ensure adequate protection of that name from the outset. It takes an immense amount of time, creativity and money to pick a name, create logos, register your company, create bank accounts, obtain business cards, stationary and cheques, develop a website, develop packaging, and so on and so on.
Imagine investing this time and energy without adequate name protection just to have another business begin offering goods and services under the same or similar mark. What would it cost you to re-brand? Could you even re-brand? How important is the name to your business? If you answered any of ‘a lot’, ‘no’ or ‘very’ to any of these questions, you should trademark your business name.
Trademark protection can take years to obtain, but once obtained are effective from and after the date of filing, not of approval. It’s important to get started on the filing process right away, and to know whether your proposed name is registrable before passing the point of no return.
In Canada, business owners can apply for formal trademark protection of certain words, descriptions, symbols and even sounds, so the registering entity or individual has the right to exclusive use of the mark for a certain period. This means you can enforce your rights against any other entity or individual in the geographical region where your mark is protected.
Another advantage of registering your marks is commoditization: once registered, it is easier to license your mark to third-parties for additional income.
Perhaps the most important protection is exclusivity in relation to certain goods and services. Once you register your mark, you can prevent others from registering a similar mark, but also prevent others from using unregistered marks similar to your registered mark.
Not all business names can be registered, however. To be registrable, a mark must be sufficiently distinctive, and must not include:
- surnames of people who are living or dead within the preceding 30 years.;
- a protected geographical indication identifying a wine, spirit, or agricultural product or food, unless it originates in the territory indicated by the geographical indication (fe.g. – Champagne – any other bubbly not originating in the Champagne region of France cannot be registered as Champagne);
- a component which in any language means the use or proposed use of the goods or services for which it is to be registered (e.g. Chai in Hindi means tea and so “Chai” cannot be registered as a tea product);
- a component which describes the character or quality of goods or services, or the conditions of persons employed in their production, or the place of origin of these goods or services (e.g. – If one wants to register Best IT Services, “Best” cannot be registered as a mark); and
- any other component prohibited by the Trademark Act.
Due to the intricacies involved in determining whether a mark is registrable or not, it is best to seek advice from a professional early in the planning stages.
A business name is an important aspect of any successful business, so it is important you ask advice from a qualified professional before registering a name to avoid massive costs later.
Did you know macushlaw offers trademark services to existing businesses, as well as newly incorporating businesses as an affordable add-on to our incorporation prices?
Fees starting at:
- $800 plus taxes and disbursements
Name protection add-ons:
- Basic trademark search – $250 plus taxes
- Advanced trademark search – $400 plus taxes
- Full trademark application – 1 category (search included) – $850 plus taxes and application fees
Standalone Trademark Services:
Fees starting at:
- Basic trademark search – $400 plus taxes
- Advanced trademark services – $600 plus taxes
- Full trademark application – 1 category (search included) – $1,000 plus taxes and application fees
Additional IP related services are available on hourly or Flex Fee(tm) basis.
Thinking about registering a name for your business or finding out if the name you have chosen could be protected under Trademarks Act? …. Contact @Apurva Agarwal.
Please note that this article contains legal information only, and is neither intended to be, capable of being or should be, relied upon as legal advice.