Del Monte Corporation v. CA (G.R. No. L-78325)

Facts:

Petitioner Del Monte, an American corporation, granted Philpack the right to manufacture, distribute and sell in the Philippines its Del Monte catsup. Petitioner’s trademark and logo ‘Del Monte’ and its catsup bottle were subsequently registered in the Philippines. Meanwhile respondent Sunshine Sauce, a company also engaged in the manufacturing and sale of various kinds of sauces, registered its logo ‘Sunshine Fruit Catsup.’ Philpack received reports that respondent was buying and recycling used Del Monte’s bottle in junk shops to serve as container for its own catsup. Thus, petitioner and Philpack filed a complaint for trademark infringement and unfair competition which the trial court dismissed. CA affirmed holding there were substantial differences between the 2 marks.

Issue:

Whether or not there is confusing similarity between the two trademarks.

Ruling: YES.

At that, even if the labels were analyzed together it is not difficult to see that the Sunshine label is a colorable imitation of the Del Monte trademark. The predominant colors used in the Del Monte label are green and red-orange, the same with Sunshine. The word “catsup” in both bottles is printed in white and the style of the print/letter is the same. Although the logo of Sunshine is not a tomato, the figure nevertheless approximates that of a tomato.

As previously stated, the person who infringes a trade mark does not normally copy out but only makes colorable changes, employing enough points of similarity to confuse the public with enough points of differences to confuse the courts. What is undeniable is the fact that when a manufacturer prepares to package his product, he has before him a boundless choice of words, phrases, colors and symbols sufficient to distinguish his product from the others. When as in this case, Sunshine chose, without a reasonable explanation, to use the same colors and letters as those used by Del Monte though the field of its selection was so broad, the inevitable conclusion is that it was done deliberately to deceive.          

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