Law Office of Peter Cusimano, Barrister & Solicitor
Business Lawyer · Toronto, Ontario, Canada

What's Involved in Choosing a Name for a Corporation in Ontario?

by Peter Cusimano
Lawyer - Barrister & Solicitor

Incorporating a business in Ontario requires a few steps to get going including choosing a name for the corporation. Although you may have already picked out your desired name, the process is not so simple because you may not be able to use your desired name.

A corporation can be a "named" corporation, or a "numbered" corporation. For example, let's say you are starting a new web design company. The name will usually consist of three parts as follows:
  • Distinctive Element (e.g.: Peter's)
  • Descriptive Element (e.g.: Web Design)
  • Legal Element (e.g.: Incorporated, Corporation, Limited, or Inc., Corp., Ltd.)
As such, using the above example, my company name may be "Peter's Web Design Ltd.".

However, simply because you choose a name, it does not mean that it is available for you. A name cannot be used if it is already in use by another business or if it is confusingly similar to an already existing business or a registered trade-mark.

In order to determine the availability of a name, a search must be conducted called a NUANS Name Search. However, if a name is not already taken, it does not mean that you can automatically use it. Also, you cannot simply change the spelling to get around an already existing name. A name cannot be "confusingly similar" to another name or trade-mark that is in use. It is important to look at how the proposed name sounds, not how it is spelled. As such, you would not be permitted to start a company called "Apul Komputer Inc" as it is confusingly similar to the name "Apple Computer Inc". One must carefully analyze and assess the NUANS Name Search report.

A corporation can also have a number as it's name. The Ontario government will assign a number, e.g.: 123456 Ontario Ltd.

If you are considering incorporating a corporation in Ontario, please contact me.

Revised: .
©Peter Cusimano, 1997-2017. (