No dice: TVJ camp says TAPE’s trademark registration renewal for ‘Eat Bulaga’ just ‘ministerial’
The camp of Tito and Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon appeared not perturbed after Television and Production Exponents (TAPE) Inc. successfully renewed “Eat Bulaga’s” trademark registration for another 10 years, saying the grant was a mere ministerial act on the part of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).
In a statement sent to INQUIRER.net, TVJ lawyer Enrique dela Cruz Jr. said the IPOPHL’s renewal of the “Eat Bulaga” trademark registration has little bearing on the petition for cancellation pending before the agency’s legal department.
“Renewal of trademark registration is ministerial on the part of IPO Bureau of Trademarks, as long as the applicant submits a declaration of actual use and pays the fee. The renewal is without prejudice to the petition for cancellation which is pending sa Bureau of Legal Affairs ng IPO. Separate office sya,” dela Cruz said.
“Kailangan lang mag bayad online at mag file ng DAU – Declaration of Actual Use, mare-renew na agad ang registration,” he further said in a separate message.
While acting on the trademark registration renewal is a ministerial function, a separate office of the IPOPHL is also hearing TVJ’s complaint for cancellation of Tape’s trademark registration, which already gave a 30-day deadline for the production company to answer.
The TVJ counsel said TAPE has yet to respond to a “Notice to Answer” issued by the IPOPHL’s Bureau of Legal Affairs.
Based on the IPO’s “Notice to Answer,” dated June 6, 2023, TAPE shall be “declared in default in case of failure to file Answer or the motion for extension to file answer, including the payment of fees… Consequently, the case shall be decided on the basis of the petition and evidence submitted by the Petitioner (TVJ).”
“Eh pinapa cancel nga namin yan (trademark registration) sa hiwalay na kaso. Ang tanong, bakit hindi pa sila sumasagot dun sa kaso na yun (cancellation). Bakit kailangan magpa extension?” said dela Cruz.
Sought for comment, Atty. Maggie Abaham-Garduque, lead counsel for TAPE, said the IPO’s grant of renewal of trademark registration is more than ministerial, citing Section 146.3 of Republic Act 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code.
The provision states that, “(if) the Office refuses to renew the registration, it shall notify the registrant of his refusal and the reasons therefor.”
“IPO can refuse to renew the registration if it has ground to do so. This means renewal is not ministerial. IPO still has the discretion to renew or not to renew,” she told INQUIRER.net in a separate message.
Garduque declined to further comment as the issue may be subject to subjudice due to the pending petition filed before the Marikina regional trial court.
The trial court is currently hearing the copyright infringement and unfair competition filed by TVJ and former TAPE executive Jeny Ferre against the production outfit and GMA-7, which are proceeding with their blocktime agreement using the “Eat Bulaga” brand for its noontime show.