Businesses put a significant amount of time, energy and money into creating a corporate brand. The brand is the image and reputation of the business as seen by others. The more recognized the brand becomes the more valuable it is and the more important it is to protect it.
What can be done to protect the brand?
The corporate name and any business names are key components of the brand.
Protect your corporate name and business names by not only using them but ensuring that they are properly registered and not being used by others. Be sure that the registration is renewed before it expires. For example, in Ontario business name registrations expire in 5 years.
A NUANS search must be conducted prior to registering a corporate or business name. Even when a proper name search is done, it does not necessarily mean that there will be no confusion with other registered names or registered trade-marks. It is the responsibility of the registrant to ensure that the name being registered will not be confused with existing names or trade-marks.
Registration of a trade-mark is the best way to obtain the exclusive right to use the mark throughout Canada. As your brand begins to grow, consider registering a trade-mark. For example if the corporate name is “Jane Smith Design Inc.”, the words “JaneSmithDesign” may be a possible trade-mark. For more information about protecting your brand by trade-mark registration visit http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr03584.html
Conduct an online search every now and then to make sure your name is not being used by others. If you discover that it is being used, reach out to the third party to enforce your rights. It is in the best interests of both parties to resolve any dispute about a name as confusion among the public may cause significant inconvenience and possible damages for both.
Another search option is the Canadian Intellectual Property Office electronic trade-mark database.
Regular searches may provide comfort that there are no new registered trade-marks which are confusing with a corporate name.
Taking simple steps to protect the brand is a key component to running a business.