IP News

Philippine Supreme Court Affirms Conviction of Liquor Trademark Infringer

January 13, 2010

In a 12-page decision penned by Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, the Philippine Supreme Court’s First Division affirmed the Court of Appeals in convicting Juno Batistis for trademark infringement involving the Fundador mark.

The case emanated from an NBI-led search warrant enforcement which yielded counterfeit Fundador bottles, boxes and plastic caps. The search warrant for trademakr infringement was issued by Judge Antonio Eugenio of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 24.

The Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Regional Trial Court, which convicted Batistis for trademark infringement. However, on the issue of Unfair Competition, the CA reversed the Regional Trial Court’s ruling on the basis of the prosecution’s failure to establish proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt against Batistis.

Batistis appealed the Court of Appeals decision to the Supreme Court on certiorari, raising issues concerning misappreciation of trial evidence.

On December 16, 2009, the Supreme Court eventually dismissed Batistis’ appeal. The Supreme Court decision emphasizes that the issues raised in the petition were merely factual and evidentiary in nature. While the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts, it nonetheless found occasion to affirm that the lower courts’ finding of facts were indeed correct.

Significantly, the decision assesses Batistis’ possession of the stated Fundador paraphernalia as prima facie proof that he had been committing a grave economic offense over a period of time, necessitating the imposition of the higher penalty required by the Indeterminate Sentence Law.

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