First of all, I love French and I think it’s a beautiful language with so much history. As a francophone, I think Quebec is right to proud of its language and defend it in all the spheres of the society. However, when it comes to business and attracting customers abroad, having a business name in French could be tricky if your name is not bilingual. Your clients might not know exactly what your services are about and that could impact your sales. So here are my 5 tips to have an English business name in Québec:
1. Differentiate brand name and company name
Yes, according to the Charter of the French language, your company name needs to be in french to be registered in Québec. As a matter of fact, it can even be numbers, you can have a look at the rules applicable to the name of a business on the Registraire des entreprises . However, you can still use your brand name (which will be use to promote your services online) with an english name. How? Tip 2 please!
2. Register your brand name as a Trademark
Indeed, you can register your brand as a trademark which will protect your company under the law from misuse by others and distinguish your company from competitors. It will also give you the right to do your promotion and sell your services under your brand name. To know more about trademarks, you can check out the website of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Bear in mind that you can register your brand name as a trademark only if your name is not already used as a trademark by another Canadian company.
3. Incorporate your company once your Trademark is filed
I have to say, my 1st mistake was that I registered my company before creating the trademark. What happened is that my registration request has been refused as the English name was not registered yet. Therefore even though I registered a French name for the company, I could not put One Vision Tour by itself as it was not in French. Therefore, to avoid you this “learning opportunity”, it would be better to first file your trademark (bearing in mind the acceptance of your trademark can take a while but once your trademark is filed you can use it until you get the approval) and then incorporate your company with a name in French or numbers and put your brand name in English in “Other names” with the symbol R or MD meaning “marque déposée”. It is very important so that when the agents will check your trademark, they will see that the trademark has been indeed filed.
4. Get a lawyer
I would advise you to get a lawyer, especially if you want to register your brand name as a trademark. It can be a long and complex process so having lawyers by your side could avoid any mistakes and make this procedure a lot smoother for you.
5. Double-check everything
Yes, we could never say this enough: double-check every information given! Why? Because ignorance of the law is no excuse. So even though your friend or a fellow entrepreneur told you there could be an easier way for you to promote your services with an english name, check if you can get the information confirmed by an official institution. Even what you are reading right now could have changed since I set up my business so don’t be shy and make calls to ensure the path you’re willing to take is the right one.
And you, did you filed for federal trademark protection?