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Business law issues: What to name a new company

In Alberta, choosing a name for a new company is an important part of the incorporation process. The name needs to draw customers in and be memorable. There are also considerations involving domain name selection.

There are a few legal reasons why an entrepreneur cannot simply choose a name and go with it.

Names must meet the requirements set forth in sections 10 and 12 of the Business Corporations Act (Alberta).

For instance, one of the primary criteria for a name is that it is not the same as an already established corporation. It also cannot be so similar that it creates confusion between two companies. For this reason, a NUANS search is required in order to eliminate these possibilities.

A business owner does not have to use the company's legal name in day-to-day operations. A trade name may be used instead. In fact, a trade name can be useful if you decide to not name your company at all, and instead choose to go with a numbered company. However, when it comes to engaging in legal activities such as entering into contracts, the company's legal name is the name the company must use.

Both corporate and trade names do not give business owners any registerable intellectual property ownership rights. Furthermore, duplicate trade names can exist without issue and the name of your Alberta corporation can be used in another province. Therefore, corporate and trade names can be ineffective when it comes to protecting your brand.

To protect your brand, you can file for a trademark. Confusingly similar trademarks are not allowed, and this protection applies across Canada, regardless of where your business is located. You can trademark a logo, a slogan, a graphic and more.

It is also prudent to ensure your corporate and trade names do not infringe others' trademarks.

Choosing a name is only one aspect of incorporating a new business. Consult one of our corporate lawyers to ensure that your company is formed and organized properly, and to avoid potential problems later.

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