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A common mistake business owners make is thinking that simply incorporating or registering their business name (e.g., with ServiceOntario) gives them exclusive rights to the name. However, obtaining a corporate name or registering a business name that is different from your corporate name, does not give you exclusive “trademark” rights to your name, which involves a separate process.

Although the Federal government (and some provincial governments) will prevent you from incorporating with a name that is confusingly similar with an existing corporate name, registered business name or trademark, in general, the Ontario government will only prevent you from obtaining a corporate name that is identical to the name of an existing corporation operating in Ontario. The Ontario government will not even prevent you from registering a business name that is identical to a name of an existing business.

So just because you are able to obtain a corporate name or register a business name, it does not necessarily mean that you are free to use it, or that others cannot register a confusingly similar business name. Further, having the freedom to use a name is different from having the exclusive rights to prevent others from using a name, which requires applying for and obtaining a trademark registration.

Our firm has registered Trademark Agents and experienced lawyers who can promptly assist you with the preparation and filing of your trademark application, and prevent you from making mistakes that may not be correctable after your application has already been filed.

Please contact us by email at trademarks@kmblaw.com to begin the process of preparing your trademark application or to schedule a free 20-minute general consultation.

To learn more about the benefits of obtaining a trademark registration, please read our other article: The Benefits of Registering your Trademark.

This article is provided for general information purposes and should not be considered a legal opinion. Clients are advised to obtain legal advice on their specific situations.

If you have questions, please reach out

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