An individual can carry on a business either by means of a sole proprietorship, or by means of a corporation.
In a sole proprietorship a person is legally carrying on a business, i.e., the person and the business are essentially one and the same. Thus, for example, any income produced by the business is added to any other personal income of the individual for tax purposes. Likewise, if the business is sued, the individual is sued.
An individual must register the name of the business if the business name differs from the person’s actual name. For example, Bill Jones could operate a business as Bill Jones without registration, but if he calls his business Bill Jones Crafts, that name would require registration with the Ontario government.
The name of a sole proprietorship does not have to be unique, although the Act does provide penalties for choosing a name which causes confusion with another business. For example, there could be several businesses called Bill Jones Crafts, since a name search is not required prior to registration. However, it is highly recommended that you do such a search.
There are three options for a name search for a sole proprietorship:
The government will search its database of sole proprietorships and tell you if there is an existing sole proprietorship which has the identical name to the one you are proposing. This search will not tell you about businesses outside of your state. Neither will it tell you if there is a business with a similar name, or if there is a corporation with an identical name in your state. For example, if you wanted to operate as Pro Golf Training, this search would not tell you if there is a business called Professional Golf Training, or if there is a corporation called Pro Golf Training Inc, that’s why we recommend strong branding and name protection.
If your business is successful, you may wish to incorporate at a later date. If you operated as Pro Golf Training because you were unaware of the existing corporation Pro Golf Training Inc., you would be required to change your business name on incorporation, since the government will not incorporate a business with the same name as an existing business, even if that business is located outside of Ontario.
We offer an Exact Match Search which will identify sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and trademarks which match your proposed name.
These problems can usually be overcome by doing a Name Search prior to registering your business name. This is the type of search required to incorporate a business. This search will give you a list of registered business names, corporate names and trade marks which are similar to your proposed name for your registered business. This will make you aware of any existing businesses which could prevent you from incorporating using your registered business name. A search may also prevent you from having to change the name of your business at a later date because you were unaware that it was infringing on a Trade Mark.
A corporation is a legal entity which is separate from the individual owner of the corporation. As an owner or shareholder of a corporation, you are usually liable only for the money invested in the corporation, unless, for example, you have given your personal guaranty for the corporation.