SC affirms unfair competition ruling against CDO’s Pista ham
The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines’ (IPOPHL) ruling finding the maker of CDO Pista ham guilty of unfair competition.
In a recent 15-page decision, the SC 2nd Division denied the petition of Foodsphere, Inc., contesting the Court of Appeals’ (CA) April 8, 2015 resolution upholding the IPOPHL’s findings and ordering it to pay P100,000 in nominal damages to San Miguel Pure Foods Company, Inc.
At the same time, the SC denied Pure Foods’ petition on the IPOPHL’s dismissal of its trademark infringement complaint against Foodsphere.
Pure Foods had accused Foodsphere of imitating its Purefoods Fiesta ham, even down to the marketing and packaging of CDO Pista ham.
The IPOPHL and the CA said there was no infringement, because Foodsphere already began using the Pista brand and filed a trademark application in 2006, one year before Pure Foods’ registration of Fiesta was approved.
The tribunals also said Pure Foods filed the complaint beyond the four-year deadline, and comparing the competing brands would not lead to confusion. Yet, the similarity in the labels and packages was a ground to hold Foodsphere liable for unfair competition.
The SC agreed, saying CDO Pista’s move to switch to a paper ham bag similar to that of Purefoods Fiesta reeked of “intent to deceive the public, to defraud its competitor, and to ride on the goodwill” of the latter.
“Settled is the. rule that factual findings of administrative agencies are generally accorded respect and even finality by this Court, if such findings are supported by substantial evidence,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta.