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REGISTRATION OF BUSINESS NAMES UNDER THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
  1. In terms of section 79 of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (“the Act”) a person may not carry on business, or enter into any transaction to supply goods or services to and with a consumer under any name other than:
    1. the person’s full name in the case of an individual; or
    2. the company’s registered name where it is a juristic person,

  2. unless such other name is registered in terms of section 80 of the Act which relates to the business names register.

  3. In terms of Schedule 2 subsection 5 of the Act, the provisions relating to business names and its registration will only come into effect upon a date determined by the Minister [of Trade and Industry] and published in the Government Gazette. The date must be at least one year after the effective date of the Act, which was 1 April 2011, so the earliest effective date for this provision is 1 April 2012. It is likely that the Minister will also allow a certain amount of time after the published date for persons and companies to comply with the regulation.

  4. In terms of section 80 of the Act, a notice (annexure H to the Regulations) is to be filed with the Company and Intellectual Property Commission (“CIPC”). Regulation 39 to the Act makes provision for the procedure to be followed but is at this stage incomplete. Only when the missing details have been promulgated by the Minister will the exact procedure become clear.

  5. Section 81 of the Act provides that a business name:
    1. may not be the same as, or confusingly similar to, the name of a registered company or close corporation, or a trademark that has been registered or for which an application for registration has been filed, or a foreign trademark that is well-known in South Africa; and
    2. may not falsely suggest that the business is connected with any other person or entity, or with any state or organ of state, or is owned or managed by persons holding particular qualifications or by members of a regulated profession.

  6. Despite popular perceptions, the Act has not prohibited persons, partnerships or companies from carrying on business under trading names. All that has happened is that such names have to be registered. The purpose of these provisions in the Act is to protect the consumer by ensuring that he is always made aware of whom he is contracting or transacting with and that unscrupulous traders cannot avoid liability for transactions by trading under “assumed” names at will.

  7. The mechanism and procedure for registration of trading names has not yet been promulgated by the Minister. Until that happens, and the system is implemented, it is “business as usual” for business names. 
 
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Date: 17-19 May 2012

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