Ang Si Heng v. Wellington Department Store (G.R. No. L-4531)

Facts:

Plaintiff-appellant Ang Si Heng is a manufacturer of articles of wear and registered owner of the mark ‘Wellington.’ Meanwhile, defendant is a store for different articles and is registered with the business name ‘Wellington Department Store.’ Plaintiff Heng filed a complaint for unfair competition against defendant alleging that the latter’s use of its business name/corporate name deceives the public into buying defendant’s goods under the mistaken belief that the goods are of plaintiff’s or have the same source as plaintiff’s goods. The court dismissed the complaint.

Issue:

Whether or not defendant has misled the public constitutive of unfair competition.

Ruling: NO.

While there is similarity between the trademark or trade name “Wellington Department Store,” no confusion or deception can possibly result or arise from such similarity because the latter is a “department store,” while the former does purport to be so. The name “Wellington” is admittedly the name of the trademark on the shirts, pants, drawers, and other articles of wear for men, women and children, whereas the name used by the defendant indicates not these manufactured articles or any similar merchandise, but a department store. Neither can the public be said to be deceived into the belief that the goods being sold in defendant’s store originate from the plaintiffs, because the evidence shows that defendant’s store sells no shirts or wear bearing the trademark “Wellington,” but other trademarks. Neither could such deception be by any possibility produced because defendant’s store is situated on the Escolta, while plaintiffs’ store or place of business is located in another business district far away from the Escolta. The mere fact that two or more customers of the plaintiffs thought of the probable identity of the products sold by one and the other is not sufficient proof of the supposed confusion that the public has been led into by the use of the name adopted by the defendants. As we have stated, appellant have not shown any well-established reputation or goodwill previous to the establishment of appellees’ business, such that it can be said that something was unfairly taken by the use of such reputation by the appellees’ department store. We agree, therefore, with the trial court that plaintiffs-appellants have not been able to show the existence of a cause of action for unfair competition against the defendants-appellees.

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