Importance of a Business Name Search

nuans preliminary name search

If you are looking at registering a Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership or alternatively a Tradename under your existing corporation, it is important to search your proposed business name and these are the reasons why.

Search to see what is already in existence

When you are registering a new Master Business Licence, although there is no name protection for your business when registered, it is important to review the existing similar small businesses, corporations and trademarks to your proposed name.  Both existing corporations and trademarks have name protection.

What happens if there is a similar corporation or trademark listed?

Both incorporated companies within your jurisdictions and Trademarks have name protection.  The highest level of name protection in Canada is the Trademark and the incorporated businesses have name protection within the jurisdiction where they incorporate.

If a similar named corporation or trademark appears when searching your proposed business name, we highly recommend you look at moving on to another business name search.

The corporations and trademarks may consider your Master Business Licence to be infringing on their existing protected name and may seek to force you to cancel or change your business name by providing to you a cease and desist letter through a solicitor.

If this happens, you have a limited time to either change or cancel your business or face civil litigation over the matter.

What happens if there is a similar named Master Business Licence listed?

Existing Master Business Licences such as Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships and alternatively Tradenames under an existing corporation do not have name protection.  However, there are a number of aspects to consider if an existing Master Business Licence is found when searching your proposed business name.

  1. Same Geographical Area –  if the existing business resides in your business’ general area, customers may become confused with what business they are dealing with when there are 2 similarly named businesses.
  2. Same Industry –  If both your business and the existing business are within the same industry, it will be very difficult for clients to easily understand one business to the other
  3. Reputation – the existing business may have a great reputation or a terrible one.  If your business name is similar or the same, you business may become confused with the existing business.
  4. Advertising & Promotion –  As you promote and advertise your business, you don’t want your advertising spend to go to help other businesses exposure and revenues.
  5. Social Media –  You may be active on social media for your business but a competitively named business may get the benefit of your hard work and influence within your industry.
  6. Expanding to an Incorporated business – you may in time wish to incorporate the business under the same name as you have registered.  The existing small business can continue to operate their business name even after you have incorporated as long as it registered before you can incorporate.

How do I search my proposed business name?

First, it is important to put together a unique name that also provides what industry your business is in.  Don’t leave guess work as to what your business does for potential clients or they will go elsewhere.

Search Google, Yahoo, Bing and any other search engines available to you to see if you can find an online presence similar to your proposed name.  This may easily and at no cost, let you know of any existing businesses that may remove the name as an option. When you have established what appears to be a good business name, we recommend you include a preliminary NUANS search to ensure the business name continues to be available.  There is a minimal fee to request the preliminary search but it is very nominal.

How much does it cost to complete a NUANS preliminary search?

If you would like our assistance, our fee is $10.00 to search one business name and $20.00 to search 3 business names.  If the business names are not available, you can provide a new business name at no additional cost.

What if I have trouble finding an available business name?

Our staff at Ontario Business Central have been assisting individuals for almost 30 years to find available names for their business.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as switching the wording around in the business name, other times, it may be the proposed name is too general.  We are here to assist you if your proposed name or names hit roadblocks for availability.

If you would like to complete the NUANS preliminary search with us, here is the link to do so:

NUANS Preliminary Search

If you require assistance with searching a business name and confirming if that business name appears to be available within the jurisdiction you wish to operate, please feel free to reach out to us for services related to searching and gaining approval towards registration or incorporation.
Toll-Free: 1-800-280-1913
Local: 1-416-599-9009
Fax: 1-866-294-4363
Office Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Friday E.S.T.

Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.