Petitioner Lyceum of the Philippines had commenced before the SEC a proceeding against the Lyceum of Baguio to change its corporate name alleging that the 2 names are substantially identical because of the word ‘Lyceum’. SEC found for petitioner and the SC denied the consequent appeal of Lyceum of Baguio in a resolution. Petitioner then basing its ground on the resolution, wrote to all educational institutions which made use of the word ‘Lyceum’ as part of their corporate name to discontinue their use. When this recourse failed, petitioner moved before the SEC to enforce its exclusive use of the word ‘Lyceum.’ Petitioner further claimed that the word ‘Lyceum’ has acquired a secondary meaning in its favor. The SEC Hearing Officer found for petitioner. Both SEC En Banc and CA ruled otherwise.
(1) Whether or not ‘Lyceum’ is a generic word which cannot be appropriated by petitioner to the exclusion of others.
(2) Whether or not the word ‘Lyceum’ has acquired a secondary meaning in favor of petitioner.
(3) Whether or not petitioner is infringed by respondent institutions’ corporate names.
(1) YES. “Lyceum” is in fact as generic in character as the word “university.” In the name of the petitioner, “Lyceum” appears to be a substitute for “university;” in other places, however, “Lyceum,” or “Liceo” or “Lycee” frequently denotes a secondary school or a college. It may be that the use of the word “Lyceum” may not yet be as widespread as the use of “university,” but it is clear that a not inconsiderable number of educational institutions have adopted “Lyceum” or “Liceo” as part of their corporate names. Since “Lyceum” or “Liceo” denotes a school or institution of learning, it is not unnatural to use this word to designate an entity which is organized and operating as an educational institution.
(2) NO. Under the doctrine of secondary meaning, a word or phrase originally incapable of exclusive appropriation with reference to an article in the market, because geographical or otherwise descriptive might nevertheless have been used so long and so exclusively by one producer with reference to this article that, in that trade and to that group of the purchasing public, the word or phrase has come to mean that the article was his produce. With the foregoing as a yardstick, [we] believe the appellant failed to satisfy the aforementioned requisites. While the appellant may have proved that it had been using the word ‘Lyceum’ for a long period of time, this fact alone did not amount to mean that the said word had acquired secondary meaning in its favor because the appellant failed to prove that it had been using the same word all by itself to the exclusion of others. More so, there was no evidence presented to prove that confusion will surely arise if the same word were to be used by other educational institutions.
(3) NO. We do not consider that the corporate names of private respondent institutions are “identical with, or deceptively or confusingly similar” to that of the petitioner institution. True enough, the corporate names of private respondent entities all carry the word “Lyceum” but confusion and deception are effectively precluded by the appending of geographic names to the word “Lyceum.” Thus, we do not believe that the “Lyceum of Aparri” can be mistaken by the general public for the Lyceum of the Philippines, or that the “Lyceum of Camalaniugan” would be confused with the Lyceum of the Philippines. We conclude and so hold that petitioner institution is not entitled to a legally enforceable exclusive right to use the word “Lyceum” in its corporate name and that other institutions may use “Lyceum” as part of their corporate names.