If you want to incorporate federally, you’ll have to submit a federal NUANS report with your application. A government Examiner will review your application and decide whether your proposed name is “confusing” with an existing company name or trademark. If it is, your application will not be approved for incorporation. The question of what is “confusing” can become quite complex. In general, the same principles apply for business names as for trademarks (see our pages on trademarks).
What’s a Federal NUANS Report?
A federal NUANS report lists 4 pages of company names and 2 pages of trademarks that are similar to the name you’ve submitted. It also reserves your proposed name for 90 days. The entire NUANS database is searched, including trademarks, corporation names for all the provinces and territories (except Quebec), and unincorporated business names for most of them. If the search was submitted correctly, the top hits on the report will be federal companies in your line of business with the most similar names, followed by business names and provincially incorporated companies. The trademarks pages will also start with the most similar names in your field.
You can order a federal NUANS report directly from Industry Canada using their real-time NUANS search system. We don’t recommend it, though. Submitting search terms is more complex than you would think. Hire someone with experience in framing searches and in interpreting them. It will cost you more, but it’s well worth it.