Philip Morris v. CA (G.R. No. 91332)

Facts:

Petitioners are foreign corporations organized under US laws not doing business in the Philippines and registered owners of symbols ‘MARK VII,’ ‘MARK TEN,’ and ‘LARK’ used in their cigarette products. Petitioners moved to enjoin respondent Fortune Tobacco from manufacturing and selling cigarettes bearing the symbol ‘MARK’ asserting that it is identical or confusingly similar with their trademarks. Petitioners relied on Section 21-A of the Trademark Law to bring their suit and the Paris Convention to protect their trademarks. The court denied the prayer for injunction stating that since petitioners are not doing business in the Philippines, respondent’s cigarettes would not cause irreparable damage to petitioner. CA granted the injunction but on a subsequent motion, dissolved the writ.

Issues:

(1) Whether or not petitioner’s mark may be afforded protection under said laws;

(2) Whether or not petitioner may be granted injunctive relief.

Ruling:

(1) NO. Yet, insofar as this discourse is concerned, there is no necessity to treat the matter with an extensive response because adherence of the Philippines to the 1965 international covenant due to pact sunt servanda had been acknowledged in La Chemise. Given these confluence of existing laws amidst the cases involving trademarks, there can be no disagreement to the guiding principle in commercial law that foreign corporations not engaged in business in the Philippines may maintain a cause of action for infringement primarily because of Section 21-A of the Trademark Law when the legal standing to sue is alleged, which petitioners have done in the case at hand.

Petitioners may have the capacity to sue for infringement irrespective of lack of business activity in the Philippines on account of Section 21-A of the Trademark Law but the question whether they have an exclusive right over their symbol as to justify issuance of the controversial writ will depend on actual use of their trademarks in the Philippines in line with Sections 2 and 2-A of the same law. It is thus incongruous for petitioners to claim that when a foreign corporation not licensed to do business in Philippines files a complaint for infringement, the entity need not be actually using its trademark in commerce in the Philippines. Such a foreign corporation may have the personality to file a suit for infringement but it may not necessarily be entitled to protection due to absence of actual use of the emblem in the local market.

(2) NO.  More telling are the allegations of petitioners in their complaint as well as in the very petition filed with this Court indicating that they are not doing business in the Philippines, for these frank representations are inconsistent and incongruent with any pretense of a right which can breached. Indeed, to be entitled to an injunctive writ, petitioner must show that there exists a right to be protected and that the facts against which injunction is directed are violative of said right. On the economic repercussion of this case, we are extremely bothered by the thought of having to participate in throwing into the streets Filipino workers engaged in the manufacture and sale of private respondent’s “MARK” cigarettes who might be retrenched and forced to join the ranks of the many unemployed and unproductive as a result of the issuance of a simple writ of preliminary injunction and this, during the pendency of the case before the trial court, not to mention the diminution of tax revenues represented to be close to a quarter million pesos annually. On the other hand, if the status quo is maintained, there will be no damage that would be suffered by petitioners inasmuch as they are not doing business in the Philippines. In view of the explicit representation of petitioners in the complaint that they are not engaged in business in the Philippines, it inevitably follows that no conceivable damage can be suffered by them not to mention the foremost consideration heretofore discussed on the absence of their “right” to be protected.

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