Researching a Business Name (Part II)

You have decided to register your business name.  How do you know if someone else is already using this business name?  Once you’ve registered the name, can someone else also register the name?  How do you protect the name? 

There is no name protection when you register a business name as a sole proprietor in Ontario.  Let’s continue with our client from last week’s blog, Mary Smith.  Mary decides to register as a sole proprietor in Oakville, Ontario and has her heart set on the name “True Colours”.    Our recommendation to Mary is that she take her time to research the name “True Colours” to see if anyone else is operating a painting company with that name and where they are located.

Where should she start?  We would recommend that Mary start by Googling “True Colours” to see what comes up.

She should continue with her research by checking the Yellow Pages for all of Halton, Mississauga, Toronto and Hamilton.  The Yellow Pages directory is often overlooked but it can provide valuable information.

We recommend Mary’s next step is to go to   A Nuans name search and report is mandatory when incorporating a business name however it can also be a valuable tool for sole proprietors as they research a prospective name.  A Nuans preliminary report can tell if anyone has registered the business name across the country and it will confirm if the business name is registered as a sole proprietor, a general partnership or incorporated.   The following steps will help you navigate the Nuans website.

For a Free 90 days pre-screen name search try

1. Click on “NUANS Real-Time System” from menu on the left hand side

2. Click again on “NUANS Real-Time”

3. Enter e-mail address under “Need an Access Key?”  –  (you will receive by email the “Access key:”)

4. Under “Login” enter your Email & Access key provided

5. Click “Continue” on the “Advisory” page

6. Enter name you would like to search and “Continue”

7. Your list of “Corporate Name Pre-Search Results”

And finally, we recommend Mary go to www.serviceontario to do a detailed name search.  This search will let Mary know of any other sole proprietors, general partnerships or operating names of corporations in Ontario and it can tell Mary what the business activity is.  For instance, if Mary finds a business with the name True Colours Painting in Brampton, the detail names search may reveal that this is (as an example) a human resources consulting firm.

If you decide to register a name that someone else is using in a non-competing area, think twice if there is a chance you may be  purchasing from the same supplier(s).  You may run into hassles with creditors if the “other” business isn’t paying its bills.

Deciding on a name, searching the name and registering the nameare activities thatshould not be taken lightly.  Take your time and seek assistance if necessary.

CanadaBusiness has an excellent section on name registration that is certainly worth reviewing.  If you have any further questions or wish to discuss your name search results please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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