Protecting a business name

protecting-a-business-nameConsultants from the Halton Small Business Centre often meet with clients to determine what business structure would best suit their individual and business goals.  One item that often comes up is how a business name can be protected or secured There are two methods of protecting  a business name:

  • Incorporation – provincial and federal;
  • Trademarks – national and international.

Before reviewing how the two methods can protect a name, we need to clarify the issue of sole proprietorship and general partnership name protection.  Under these two types of business registration there, is no protection of the business name.  You are free to use the name you register; however, there is no exclusive use of this name.

If the name has been incorporated by another business, you do not want to register the name otherwise you could be faced with legal action in the form of a cease and desist letter from the other business ordering you to stop using their name.  To avoid duplicating another company’s name, business name searches are available here.

The first method to protect a business name is to incorporate the business, rather than register it as a sole proprietorship or general partnership.  Incorporation can be either a provincial or federal sarrangement.  If a business incorporates in a specific province, then the business name is protected in that particular jurisdiction.  If a business is incorporated federally, then the business name is protected nationally.  This gives the business exclusive use of that business name. Information on incorporation is available here.

The alternate method to protect a business name, or brand name, is to register a trademark.  This is a legal process that protects the business name, any scripting or logos and unique marks.  This process is administered and regulated through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.There are also International trademarks that can be applied to other countries, if expanded protection is necessary.

One of the goals of the Halton Small Business Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and provide the right tools to achieve success.  For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, visit us online at, by email at or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

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Target Marketing – How Important Is It?

Marketing segmentation

When you are writing a business plan one section of that plan will be dedicated to target marketing.  You might wonder what target marketing is and how important is it?   According to the business plan template that is used by the Halton Region Small Business Centre, target marketing identifies and describes your customer or end user in great detail.  When you truly understand who that customer is, you then know how to reach them or where to advertise. This can help you save time and money as well as help verify that the product or service that you are going to provide is viable.

To begin with, you need to choose a specific market such as: engineers, seniors, women, teens or men.  Write a short, but detailed, description of the target market and then break that down into the follow four categories:


Identify gender; how old people in your target are; how much money they make; and, what kind of education or job they have (if relevant). You can also comment on how many of these types of people live in the area that you will be selling to. Continue reading

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Salute to Small Business Month

Portrait of a businesswoman smiling with two bakers and a mature man in a bakery

The beginning of October once again marks the start of Small Business Month – a month that celebrates and recognizes the contribution that small businesses make to their local communities.

With many activities and events taking place across the province, it is a time when small business owners can reflect and discover a new direction or find new ways to improve their operations, expand their network and grow their business. This month also offers the opportunity to engage with government agencies and business organizations. There are many programs and organizations working to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

In Halton, we have a long history of supporting the entrepreneurial culture of the business community and fostering its growth through our own Small Business Centre. Over the past 10 years, staff have responded to over 100,000 inquiries and met with more than 10,000 clients in one-on-one consultations. These initiatives are proving successful as more and more businesses are choosing to locate here. The Small Business Centre also offers workshops, seminars and a variety of other programs. Some of these programs, such as Summer Company, Starter Company and our partnership with Futurpreneur Canada, are aimed at young entrepreneurs. Continue reading

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Small Business Resources for Newcomers

small-business-owners-for-newcomer-blogMore and more new Canadians are seeking information on starting up a new business, whether it’s a micro-business, a small to medium enterprise or starting a business utilizing their foreign education credentials.

We often meet with individuals who may have limited English language proficiency or who are looking to have their professional credentials recognized in the Canadian economy. There are many resources available to newcomers, both online and here at the Halton Region Small Business Centre to help navigate the Canadian business landscape. Here are some highlights of what resources are available online. Continue reading

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Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership


What business structure is ideal for your business?  The majority of businesses are sole proprietorship (a business owned by one person) or general partnership (a business owned by two or more individuals).  What are some advantages and disadvantages of setting up this type of structure?


  • Simple and least expensive to set up – You can run a business under your own name and if so, you are not required to register the business name with the Ontario Government. If you decide you want to operate under a business name, it must be registered with the Ontario Government and the fee is $60.00. You register online at

Continue reading

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Music is Valuable to Your Business – and More Affordable than You Think

socan_tag_h_eng_4cHave you ever been in a grocery store and heard background music playing overhead? You may not have thought about it, but being in a big-box store, or superstore, without music can be an unsettling experience after so many years of background music being so common. If you can’t remember a grocery store experience, think of the last time you went to a dance studio or fitness class without music? I would guess that it’s never happened.

Music can be an important part of the retail shopping experience. The mood set by music can impact customers’ happiness and willing to spend money. In the case of a dance studio, music is an essential component of the business.

With all the value t music adds to business, it is surprising how many new business owners don’t know they have to pay for the music they play. Usually at this moment, adding “a music licence” to an entrepreneur’s list of start-up requirements causes a little bit of panic, but the good news is that complying with the rules is more affordable than you think. Continue reading

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Online Business Resources @ the Halton Small Business Centre

ToolboxMore and more people are contacting Halton Region, looking for information on starting a new business, whether it’s a small micro-business or a small to medium enterprise.

Before meeting with a business consultant, people can access a wealth of information on the Halton Small Business Centre website The information available on the website ranges from defining your business idea, to exporting your first product.  There are checklists and templates to get you started and help you through the planning and development stages, as well as guides and publications from trusted sources. Here are some highlights of what online resources are available:

Checklists and Templates 

  • Developing Your Idea Questions and Answers (Q&A)
  • Starting a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership Checklist
  • Starting a Corporation Checklist
  • Industry Specific Licences and Regulations
  • Business Planning Template
  • Financials – Start-up Costs, Cash Flow and Balance Sheets
  • Partnership Agreement Template
  • Networking Groups

Continue reading

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