Legal name vs. alias

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Filing of articles of association

When filing the articles of incorporation for the purpose ofincorporation, the legal name of the corporation (corporate name) must be entered or a numerical designation (numbered company) must be requested in lieu of a corporate name. The corporate name of the company usually ends with "inc." or "ltd.", or other equivalents permitted by law.

It is also possible to register what is called an assumed name(doing business as) with the Enterprise Registrar in the "other name" section. Thus, a corporation could have a numerical designation as its corporate name (123456 Québec Inc.) but do business under an assumed name, which is registered with the Enterprise Registrar.

The company name

The corporate name (other than the numerical designation) and the assumed name are treated differently by the Enterprise Registrar. When a corporate name is registered in the articles of incorporation and transmitted for incorporation, the Registrar analyzes the chosen name in depth to ensure that it is unique and complies with the law. In particular, the name must not be confusing with any other name registered with the Registrar. In this sense, when incorporating a business whose name is already registered as a sole proprietorship, the Registrar requests that the name be withdrawn, or an undertaking that the name will be withdrawn following incorporation.

Other names

On the other hand, when an "other name" is registered, practice shows that the Registrar does not analyse the uniqueness of the name and even allows an "other name" to be identical to another registered name. One can think of restaurant franchisees who register the name of the franchise they operate. There are, however, administrative remedies that allow a company to demand that its registered name be withdrawn if it is confusing, according to the criteria set out in the law and regulations, with its business name.

Thus, if a company wishes to use a business name but similar names are already registered, it should not normally attempt to use it as a company name, but rather register it as an assumed name (while ensuring that there is no risk of confusion).

It should be noted, however, that the company name, which is the legal and official name of the company, must by law be recorded in the company's invoices, contracts and instruments of sale. This may influence the decision whether or not to choose a numerical designation, which may be difficult to remember, or inspire less confidence than a proper business name.

Finally, we remind you that in all cases, whether it is a corporate name or another name, it must always be in compliance with the Charter of the French Language. The Registrar analyses the respect of the Charter of the French Language for all registered names, without exception.

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