Are you concerned that a corporation created by Corporations Canada has a name that can be confused with yours?
Corporations Canada can require a federally-incorporated corporation to change its name if we determine that the name is likely to cause confusion with the name of another business, organization or with a trade-mark.
If you are concerned that a federal corporation has a name that is confusing with yours or a trade-mark you own, you can ask us to start a process called an Allegation of Corporate Name Confusion against that corporation. As part of the process, we will review the corporate name and the information that has been provided to us to determine whether the federal name is likely to cause confusion with another name or trade-mark.
Stage 1 – Answer the following questions to decide if you should ask Corporations Canada to review a name
Question 1: Was the corporation whose name you want reviewed created by Corporations Canada?
Corporations Canada can only review the name if the corporation was created under one of these statutes:
- Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA)
- Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP Act)
- Canada Cooperatives Act (Coop Act)
- Canada Corporations Act (CCA).
You can find this information using the Corporations Canada online database.
If the corporation was created under another federal statute (e.g., Bank Act, Trust and Loans Act), you will have to contact the department responsible for that statute (e.g., the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada).
If the corporation was created by a provincial, territorial or foreign authority, you will have to contact that authority to see what can be done.
Question 2: Is confusion likely?
A corporate name should not cause confusion with any existing business name or trade-mark used in Canada. For example, a name should not lead a person to think that two unrelated corporations are the same business.
But confusion depends on the circumstances. It depends on the degree of resemblance between two names in appearance or sound and on the nature of the goods or services associated with the names. For example, Pear Computers Inc. is not likely to be confusing with Pear Orchards Pick-Your-Own Pears Ltd. A greater likelihood of confusion would exist if the two corporations dealt in the same goods or services. It also depends, among other things, on whether they are operating in the same geographic area or serving the same clients. Other factors that should be considered when deciding whether confusion is likely or not are: the uniqueness of a name; how well-known or "famous" a name is; and the length of time a name has been in use.
If you think there is a strong likelihood of confusion or if you have proof of actual instances of confusion between the name of a federal corporation and that of your corporation or your trade-mark, review the steps in Stage 2.
Stage 2 –The four steps in an Allegation of Corporate Name Confusion process
Step 1: You submit your request
Your request to Corporations Canada should explain why you think the name of the federal corporation is confusing or is likely to cause confusion with your name or trade-mark. Include the following information:
- the similarities between the names or between the name and the trade-mark;
- specifics relating to your name or trade-mark, including
- when the name or trade-mark was first used,
- how often the name or trade-mark is used,
- how well known it is by clients, and
- how it is used;
- the type of goods or services associated with your name or trade-mark and how the goods or services are distributed;
- the territory in which your corporation operates;
- the type of client the corporation deals with;
- detailed descriptions of any actual instances of confusion;
- any efforts you have made to bring your concerns to the attention of the federal corporation;
- if both names have been used for a long period of time (e.g., more than 2 years), the reason a review of the name was not requested earlier; and
- information about any court actions or other types of proceedings regarding this issue.
Step 2: The federal corporation is given the opportunity to respond
Once we have received your request, we will contact representatives of the federal corporation and provide them with a copy of your request. They will then have 30 days to submit the same information (as explained in Step 1) about their corporation. They will also be asked to explain their position as to whether or not there is a likelihood of confusion. If they do not respond, Corporations Canada may make a decision based on the information available.
Step 3: You reply to the federal corporation's response
The federal corporation's submission will be forwarded to you and you, in turn, will have 30 days to reply. If you do not reply, Corporations Canada may decide that the case has been abandoned, especially if we do not have enough information to make a decision, or we may make a decision based on the information available.
Step 4: Corporations Canada makes a decision
Corporations Canada will review the information received in Steps 1 to 3 and make a decision based on the corporate name rules. Corporations Canada may request more information if what is provided is not sufficient to make a decision
Corporations Canada may decide that:
- a name change is not necessary or
- the corporate name of the federal corporation must be changedFootnote 1.
- Corporations Canada does not conduct oral hearings. Only written submissions will be accepted.
- In some cases, Corporations Canada may require portions of the information described in Steps 1 to 3 to be submitted in the form of a statutory declaration.
- Corporations Canada requests that two copies of any submissions be provided, if submitted by paper (i.e., mail, courier or in person).
Appealing Corporations Canada's decision
Corporations Canada's decision may be appealed to a court under section 246 of the CBCA, section 258 of the NFP Act or section 345 of the Coop Act.
- Footnote 1
If the corporation alleging confusion is also a federal corporation created by Corporations Canada, it is possible for the decision to be that this corporation must change its name due to confusion.
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