Resources & Insights

Registering a Trade Name

In the current business climate, companies are working to adjust to the changing needs and demands of their customers. This leads to many businesses switching gears to provide different products and services or expanding their scope. In doing so, many choose to operate under another name. For example, ‘ABC Soda Pop Inc.’ may wish to reconfigure its plants to produce sanitizing products, which it may wish to sell as ‘ABC Sanitization’. ‘UVW City Roofing Co.’ may wish to expand its operations to a new geographic market, and want to use the name ‘XYZ Town Roofing’ to market its products in this new market. In order to do so without formally changing their names or incorporating a new company, these businesses may register what is known as a Trade Name or Business Name.

Registering a Trade Name gives a corporation, partnership or sole proprietor the ability to operate under a different title than its formal corporate name, or the names of the partners/proprietor. Individuals and corporations may register an unlimited number of Trade Names, which are simpler and less costly to establish and cancel compared to amending a corporation’s articles to change its name.

Registering a Trade Name is not the same as a Trade Mark. A registered Trade Name only allows a business to use a name other than its legal name, provided that the name does not infringe any regulations or anyone else’s naming rights, a Trade Name does not grant the business any protection or rights over the name. A business would require a Trade Mark to provide protection over its name and brand, and to stop other businesses from using confusingly similar names in the marketplace.

Trade Names are not only useful when a business changes its products or expands its geographic location; they can be used by numbered companies wishing to operate as named businesses, and by businesses wishing to operate under a less formal name than their registered name (e.g. ABC Pie Company Ltd. operating as ABC Pies). In this way, Trade Name registration provides companies with the flexibility to adjust their business after conception as they learn more about their market and expand their scope.

Businesses with a registered Trade Name must use both the corporate name and the Trade Name on all contracts and legal documents (e.g. ABC Soda Pop Inc. O/A ABC Hand Sanitizer), and in Ontario must renew the Trade Name every 5 years.

For a discussion on your business’s Trade Name registration options, or on registering a Trade Mark to protect your business’s brand, reach out to Barriston today.

Jacklyn Tuckey and Chris Holmes