A Business Name vs. a Trademark: What’s the Difference?

July 10, 2020

This is probably one of the most common questions I’m asked and one of the most misunderstood topics in trademark registration.

“I’ve registered my business name in Canada, so I’m protected”. I hear it all the time.

This cannot be further from the truth!

Your business name, or trade name, is the official name under which you choose to do business.  It is used for your banking documents, tax forms, etc. It will not provide you with the protection to use your name across the country in connection with your goods and/or services.

Only a trademark registration can do that.

A trade name and trademark, although similarly sounding, are not the same thing.  In fact, as the laws pertaining to both are different, if you don’t do your homework, it could end up costing you a significant amount of money.

When you apply to register a business name, you protect your right to use your business name in the province where you applied. However, it is important to remember that the Canadian Business Registry does not cross-reference the Canadian Trademarks Database, which means a third party can own an identical or very similar trademark in Canada for the same or very similar goods and/or services, and you would not be the wiser.

A trademark is a word, symbol, design, slogan, logo, or any combination thereof that indicates the source of the goods and/or services you are providing.

trademark registration grants you the exclusive right to use your trademark across the country in connection with the goods and/or services you provide.
A trademark holder can take legal action for trademark infringement.
Trademark registration is an assumed right of ownership.

Choosing a name is an important first step in starting your business! You must make sure the name you choose is available for use, or risk having to change your name or even your entire brand.  Encountering a third-party complaint, which could lead to a brand name change, can mean the end of your business.

Some points to ponder:
Are you really protected?
Is your mark registered?
Is your mark even available?

Are you willing to risk the countless hours and dollars you have invested in your brand all because you didn’t register your trademark?

We are available for any questions you may have!

YOU’RE KNOWN FOR IT, OWN IT.

Trademark Depot Team

Written by

Jamie Bashtanyk

CEO/Trademark Agent

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