THE petitioners who successfully sought the cancellation of the “Eat Bulaga” trademark under its registrant called their win a landmark case for creative copyright.
In a press conference on Wednesday, one of the petitioners Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said the trademark registration of Television and Production Exponents, Inc. (TAPE) “failed to prove that they conceptualized ‘Eat Bulaga’ and EB.”
His comments come in light of the trademark cancellation issued by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) as sought by Tito Sotto, his brother Marvic Valentin “Vic” Sotto, and Jose Maria “Joey” de Leon, who are collectively known as Tito, Vic, and Joey or TVJ.
Tito, Vic, and Joey are the main hosts of “Eat Bulaga,” the long-running noontime variety show.
“It is Joey who coined and created these marks in 1979 in my kitchen, in White Plains. In our petition, we explained the significance of the design and the origin of each word that comprises ‘Eat Bulaga,’” said Mr. Tito Sotto, reading from TVJ’s joint statement.
“The IPOPHL took note and recognized Joey’s great efforts in conceptualizing the words,” he added.
TVJ held the press conference a day after IPOPHL finalized its decision to cancel TAPE’s trademark registration, which was issued on June 14, 2013, and renewed on that same date this year.
“IPOPHL confirms that the petitions for cancellation were granted last Dec. 4, 2023, and the decisions were received by the parties on Dec. 5, 2023,” the trademark office said in its statement.
“You can call it [a landmark issue], but it merely clarifies what was there all along about copyright and trademark, and it’s best that the copyright owner owns the trademark unless they allow otherwise. [This issue] has always been there, and this case will clarify matters, that copyright is in the moment of creation,” Mr. Tito Sotto said.
Following the decision, TAPE’s legal counsel Maggie Abraham-Garduque has said that TVJ still cannot use “Eat Bulaga” pending an appeal by the company.
According to IPOPHL, the ruling can still be appealed before the director of its Bureau of Legal Affairs within 10 days of its issuance.
However, lawyer Enrique Dela Cruz of Divina Law Office, TVJ’s head legal counsel, told reporters at the press conference that TAPE no longer has any basis for using the “Eat Bulaga” name.
“Ang tanging hawak nila kung bakit nila ginagamit ang salitang ‘Eat Bulaga’ ay meron silang trademark registration. Kanselado ngayon yan. Hindi kayo ang may likha. Wala na silang pinanghahawakan, so bakit pa nila gagamitin?,” he said.
(Their only basis for using the “Eat Bulaga” name is their trademark registration. Now that it is canceled and it is proven that they did not create it, they have no more basis, so why should they still use it?)
Mr. Dela Cruz added that a separate copyright infringement and unfair competition case, filed at the Marikina Regional Trial Court in June, has yet to be concluded. There, the court is investigating TAPE’s use of “Eat Bulaga,” including the show’s segments and jingles, to take advantage of TVJ’s popularity and infringe upon their copyright.
TVJ clarified that they are not after money; instead, they would like to put an end to all unauthorized use of “Eat Bulaga.” This is why they filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to halt TAPE and GMA Network, Inc. or GMA7 from using the name, logo, and other related devices.
The trio parted ways with TAPE, which produces the “Eat Bulaga” show for GMA7, on May 31, and started hosting E.A.T. for TV5 channel on July 1. — Brontë H. Lacsamana