Ontario has a Business Names Act that requires businesses to register in Ontario, if they do business in Ontario. If a business does not register, it could be prevented from suing in courts in Ontario. It could also be subject to fines for non-compliance.
The Business Names Act also has regulations that govern the form of a business name, types of businesses, and characters or symbols that may be used in a business name. For more information, read: Ontario Regulation 122/91: RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING NAMES
Business Names Act, R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER B.17
Consolidation Period: From March 30, 2011 to the e-Laws currency date.
Last amendment: 2011, c. 1, Sched. 5, s. 2.
1. In this Act,
“business” includes every trade, occupation, profession, service or venture carried on with a view to profit; (“entreprise”)
“corporation” means a corporation wherever or however incorporated; (“personne morale”)
“Minister” means the Minister of Consumer and Business Services; (“ministre”)
“Ministry” means the Ministry of the Minister; (“ministère”)
“person” includes an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, unincorporated association, unincorporated syndicate, unincorporated organization, trust, body corporate, and an individual in his or her capacity as trustee, executor, administrator or other legal representative; (“personne”)
“prescribed” means prescribed by the regulations; (“prescrit”)
“Registrar” means the Registrar appointed under section 3; (“registrateur”)
“registered” means registered under this Act; (“enregistré”)
“regulations” means the regulations made under this Act. (“règlements”) R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 1; 1994, c. 27, s. 72 (1); 2001, c. 9, Sched. D, s. 13.
2. (1) No corporation shall carry on business or identify itself to the public under a name other than its corporate name unless the name is registered by that corporation. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 2 (1).
(2) No individual shall carry on business or identify his or her business to the public under a name other than his or her own name unless the name is registered by that individual. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 2 (2).
(3) No persons associated in partnership shall carry on business or identify themselves to the public unless the firm name of the partnership is registered by all of the partners. 1994, c. 27, s. 72 (2).
(3.1) No persons associated in partnership shall carry on business or identify themselves to the public under a name other than a firm name registered under subsection (3) unless the name is registered by all of the partners. 1994, c. 27, s. 72 (2).
(3.2) Subsection (1) does not apply to prohibit a corporation from carrying on business or identifying itself to the public by a name other than its corporate name if the name is set out in a partnership registration under subsection 4 (1) or a declaration under the Limited Partnerships Act. 1994, c. 27, s. 72 (2).
(3.3) Subsection (3) does not apply to prohibit persons associated in a limited partnership from carrying on business under the firm name in accordance with the Limited Partnerships Act. 1994, c. 27, s. 72 (2).
(4) Subsection (3) does not apply to prohibit persons associated in partnership from carrying on business or identifying themselves to the public under a name that is composed of the names of the partners. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 2 (4).
(5) This section does not apply to prohibit the use of a name that contains characters from an alphabet other than the Roman alphabet if the name is used in conjunction with the registered name. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 2 (5).
Name to be set out
(6) A corporation and such other persons as are prescribed carrying on business under a registered name or, in the case of a corporation, identifying itself to the public under a registered name, shall set out both the registered name and the person’s name in all contracts, invoices, negotiable instruments and orders involving goods or services issued or made by the person. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 2 (6).
Renewal of registration
5. (1) A registrant is entitled to renew a registration before it expires upon paying the required fee. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 5 (1); 1998, c. 18, Sched. E, s. 35 (1).
(2) A registrant is entitled to renew a registration within sixty days after it expires upon paying the required fee for late renewal. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 5 (2); 1998, c. 18, Sched. E, s. 35 (2).
(3) A renewal made under subsection (1) or (2) is effective on the day immediately following the expiration day of the registration being renewed. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 5 (3).
Liability for damages
6. (1) A person is entitled to recover compensation from a registrant for damages the person suffered by reason of the registration by the registrant of a name that is the same as or deceptively similar to,
(a) a name registered by the person; or
(b) the person’s name, even though the person is not required to register that name under this Act. 2010, c. 16, Sched. 5, s. 2 (1).
(2) The compensation under each of clauses (1) (a) and (b) is limited to the greater of $500 and the actual amount of damages incurred. 2010, c. 16, Sched. 5, s. 2 (2).
(3) In giving a judgment for a plaintiff in an action brought under subsection (1), the court shall order the Registrar to cancel the registration that was the cause of the action. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 6 (3).
Ability to sue
7. (1) A person carrying on business in contravention of subsection 2 (1), (2) or (3) or subsection 4 (4) or (6) is not capable of maintaining a proceeding in a court in Ontario in connection with that business except with leave of the court. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 7 (1).
(2) The court shall grant leave if the person seeking to maintain the proceeding satisfies the court that,
(a) the failure to register was inadvertent;
(b) there is no evidence that the public has been deceived or misled; and
(c) at the time of the application to the court, the person is not in contravention of this Act or the regulations. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 7 (2).
(3) No contract is void or voidable by reason only that it was entered into by a person who was in contravention of this Act or the regulations at the time the contract was made. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 7 (3).
To read the full text of the Act, click: http://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90b17
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