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TAPE vs TVJ: Who will win in copyright infringement case over ‘Eat Bulaga’?

October 26 ------ Last June, Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon, known as TVJ, and Jeny Ferre filed the case against the Television and Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE), the producer of “Eat Bulaga,” and GMA Network, which airs the show.

TVJ and Ferre’s case is “Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition under R.A. No. 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, with Application for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction.” They are asking the Marikina court to issue an injunction to stop TAPE from replaying “Eat Bulaga” episodes, segments and audio-visual recordings done before May 31 this year and using the title “Eat Bulaga.” TVJ left “Eat Bulaga” and TAPE on May 31 and transferred to TV5 and have been hosting the show “E.A.T.” since July. “Eat Bulaga,” on the other hand, has a new set of hosts.

The court first conducted hearings on the application for a writ of preliminary injunction before it proceeded to hear the main case of copyright infringement and unfair competition. During the last hearing on Oct. 23, GMA Network presented a lawyer as its witness about airtime agreement between the network and TAPE. At the conclusion of the hearing, TVJ, Ferre, TAPE and GMA Network were given by the court 30 days within which to submit their respective memorandum. “A memorandum in a legal sense can refer to a comprehensive and organized written document that summarizes and analyzes relevant laws based on legal research to support a conclusion on a particular legal issue,” according to the Cornell Law school website. It added, “In court proceedings, attorneys are asked by courts to submit memoranda to try to convince the court how relevant law and case holdings support their arguments on particular issues. Such memoranda are often called persuasive memos. Attorneys are supposed to cite every legal resource mentioned in the memo according to the local rules of the court.” After the parties have submitted their memoranda, or the lapse of the period for the submission, the TVJ-TAPE case is submitted for decision by the court, which will weigh the evidence presented. The court will resolve if TVJ and Ferre have a claim for copyright infringement against TAPE about “Eat Bulaga” and the show’s jingle or theme song. It will also decide if an injunction will be issued against TAPE and GMA Network.

In addition, the Marikina court will decide if TVJ and Ferre also have a claim for unfair competition against TAPE of the “Eat Bulaga” mark and logo. The court will also decide on who is entitled for damages between TVJ and Ferre, and TAPE and GMA Network. After TVJ, Ferre, TAPE and GMA Network have submitted their memoranda, the Marikina court will issue its decision within 60 days. For the plaintiffs, De Leon, Tito Sotto and Ferre testified in court. Vic Sotto was supposed to be presented as witness but the TVJ camp decided not to. Those who testified for TAPE were Malou Lourdes Fagar, former senior vice president and COO of TAPE, and Romeo Jalosjos.



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