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The Jungle Fiah refusing to be extinguished

Popular jerk restaurant, The Jungle Fiah Buffet Restaurant Limited, says it will continue to do business from its four locations, as the outcome of a recent case brought against founder, Franklyn Mason Sr, has nothing to do with that business.

Paradise Consortium Ltd, operating as ‘Jungle Fyah’, brought a case in the Civil Division of the Supreme Court in 2018 against Mason Sr’s business, operating as ‘Jungle Fiah’. Hearings in the case began in July 2022 and concluded in November 2023. Paradise Consortium, represented by attorney Keith Bishop, contended that Mason had “breached the tort of passing off by using the name ‘Jungle Fiah’. The civil law of tort is one of the avenues open to aggrieved parties as they seek justice for wrongs done to them or their name.

Justice Lisa Palmer-Hamilton, in her November 2023 ruling, said Mason Sr is permanently barred from from using the words ‘Jungle Fiah’ and must proceed to tear down all signs and other things related to those words.

“Upon oath, the defendant is to deliver and/or destroy all pamphlets and advertisement material with the use of the words ‘Jungle Fiah’ or business names which are visually and aurally similar to ‘Jungle Fyah’, printed or written, labels, other articles in the possession, custody or control of the defendant, the use of which would be a breach of the foregoing injunction,” the justice wrote in point two of her six-part orders.

But partner in the business and son of the founder, Franklyn Mason Jr, is hanging tough. He fired off a release on social media saying they are open for business and ready to cater to customers, especially for the Yuletide season. He insists that the name that they trade under is ‘The Jungle Fiah Restaurant Ltd’ and that there is a difference.

“The court ruling is that we should stop using the name Jungle Fiah. We’ve stopped using that name from 2016. In 2018 we registered our name as The Jungle Fiah Buffet Restaurant Ltd and that is why we can continue trading under (that name),” Mason Jr told Wednesday Business when contacted.

But not so, says Keith Bishop. He says the question of the use of the name in various forms had already been litigated before Palmer-Hamilton and therefore is of no moment at this time.

“That’s a clear breach of the order. Those arguments were presented to the judge who subsequently made an order saying that anything connected to Fiah should be removed,” Bishop said of the latest development.

Bishop said those arguments are not new and were already presented in open court and “the court obviously rejected those arguments and made the orders”.

The attorney representing Mason Sr, Leroy Equiano, said that, while he had not received any instructions from his client since the ruling, he was clear that, as far as litigation is concerned, his client would go no further.

“We won’t be appealing. My client has decided that he will be rebranding because he has a good product,” Equiano told Wednesday Business.

He said the conceptualisers of Jungle Fyah had operated at the location and failed and they decided to lease the operation to Mason Sr.

Equiano charged that the suit arose after a hard slog on the part of his client. He said that, after six years of work, patiently building a clientele, Mason Sr was presented with a bill for his efforts.

“They, having seen that the brand that Mr Mason Sr built was pretty good, they wanted to sell him the said brand for J$23 million. This is after he had expended a lot of funds building the brand; which is ridiculous. He refused and that’s when they sued,” Equiano charged, adding that come January 2024 the rebranding exercise will commence.

Meanwhile, Mason Jr said the existence of the two names is “causing confusion among customers”.

He said the registered company, The Jungle Fiah Buffet Restaurant, is totally different from Jungle Fiah.

He added that he was guided by what took place when he decided to register the company name in 2018.

Mason said when he went to register that name ‘Jungle Fiah’, it was denied outright by the Companies Office, which showed him what to do.

“It was the Companies Office who actually helped us to get another name. I could not have registered a name that was so close to ‘Fyah’,” Mason Jr insisted.

The younger Mason said that, as far as he was concerned, the business is properly registered, there is no other Jungle Fiah, and that the business is one his father and partner had worked hard to build.

“People know the real story behind Jungle Fiah. Those coming here from the initial stage know that he is the only person identified with the business. He is the boss and he’s the man sweeping up the front of the business,” Mason Jr said, arguing that the business is built on a brand that is here to stay.

The Jungle Fiah Buffet Restaurant operates from four locations – downtown Kingston at the Digicel food court, Congreve Park in Portmore, Brunswick Avenue and Angels Shopping Centre in Spanish Town.

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