JIS News

Rules to govern the registration of business names are now in place to enable the legal creation and operation of businesses in Jamaica.
These rules are to assist in the smooth implementation of the amended Registration of Business Names Act, which became effective on September 3.
“The rules are to assist the person, who wants to register his business name, helping him to see what is or is not acceptable so he doesn’t waste his time coming with a name that we won’t accept,” explained Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), Judith Ramlogan, in an interview with JIS News. The COJ is the agency responsible for implementing the rules under the legislation.
Mrs. Ramlogan noted that “anybody who is buying or selling goods or providing a service in a name other than their first and surname should register.”
She explained that the registration of business names is usually carried out by small and medium sized business operators as larger businesses tend to register companies.
Mrs. Ramlogan noted that one of the primary rules to abide by when registering a business name is to “find a name that is distinctive but at the same time will tell people what you are offering.”
“Though it (name) is distinctive, it should not be in anyway profane, indecent or connote any undertaking that is scandalous, obscene or immoral,” the CEO advised, adding that the name should not contravene the national policy on security or constitute a criminal offence when used.
“For instance a name that included the word ganja or marijuana, we would not accept because it would be against the rules,” she indicated.
Another rule she highlighted is that “the name should not be exactly alike or too similar to any name on the business names or trademark registers to create any form of confusion in the marketplace.”
To prevent this, business interests should contact the COJ or the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) to ensure that the names proposed do not relate to or resemble any trademark or previously registered name.
As it relates to names that are misleading, the rules stipulate that this occurs in cases where the name of a business suggests that it is trading or providing services on or over a wide field, indicated with words such as ‘group’, ‘national’ and ‘international’ or if it gives the impression that the business or firm is associated with the Government of Jamaica.
Further, the Registrar will not approve the registration of a business with a name that ends with the word “limited” or gives the impression that it is a body incorporated under the Companies Act.
According to the CEO, “justification will be required for the use of certain words in the proposed name of a business by the applicant prior to registration where the use of the word suggests a connection with the Crown or members of a royal family or suggests royal patronage.”
She added that for example, the use of the words ‘royal’, ‘king’, ‘princess’, ‘prince’, or ‘crown’ must be justified or any name that suggests a connection with a Government department, statutory undertaking, local authority, or with any Commonwealth or foreign government.
Mrs. Ramlogan explained that if for example, a Rastafarian with a music production company names his business King Productions, he would have to explain to the COJ that the name came about because of his religion or give some other reasonable justification before that name is accepted by the Registrar.
Another reference she made regarding the new rules is that the use of certain words in a proposed business name which refers to a profession, occupation or other business or activity, will require the production of certification from the relevant professional or regulatory body upon submission for registration.
Such words she states include: ‘engineer’, ‘medical’, ‘dental’, ‘bank’, ‘cambio’, ‘pharmacy’ and ‘university’.As it relates to non-nationals, the CEO noted that the amended Act and the proposed rules specify that “once you are not a Jamaican national or a CARICOM national, you have to produce a work permit to be able to register your business name.”
In the meantime, business operators are advised to formalize their operations as this provides greater protection, proof of ownership of business and will enable them, in certain cases, to institute and continue certain lawsuits.
The COJ’s role is to foster trade, commerce and wealth while maintaining accurate and up-to-date records on commercial entities.
For further information on the rules and the Registration of Business Names Act, contact the COJ at 908-4417/4427-9 or visit their website at www.orcjamaica.com.