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Pinoy publisher wins suit vs Sino firm

  • Written by Peoples Journal
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 756

IN a landmark decision, a Manila City Regional Trial Court has ordered a Chinese firm and its three
local partners to pay a Filipino publisher more than P24.7 million in damages after being found guilty
of copyright infringement.

In a 35-page decision rendered on Friday (December 8), Judge Ma. Victoria A. Soriano-
Villadolid of Manila City RTC, Branch 24, granted the copyright infringement complaint and damage suit
filed by St. Mary’s Publishing Corp. (SMPC) and owner Jerry Vicente S. Catabijan against M.Y.
Intercontinental Trading Corp. (MITC), its owner Tedwin T. Uy, Allianz Marketing and Publishing Corp.
(Allianz) and China-based firm Fujian New Technology Color Making and Printing Company, LTD (Fujian).
     
The court required MITC, Uy, Allianz and Fujian to solidarily pay the complainant a total of
P24,695,830, including P18.06 million in actual damages, P1 million in moral damages, P2 million in
exemplary damages, P500,000 in attorney’s fees and P3,135,000  in costs of suit.
 
The judge also ordered the defendants to desist from printing, copying, reproducing,
importing, distributing and selling 12 original and revised editions of textbooks that they have
earlier illegally sold to Department of Education - Zamboanga, Municipality of Matnog in Sorsogon and
Municipality in Cabuyao in Laguna without the necessary approval of SMPC, the copyright owner of the
books.
 
“Wherefore, premises considered, defendants M.Y. International Trading Corporation, Tedwin T.
Uy, Fujian New Technology Color Making and Printing Company, Ltd., and Allianz Marketing and
Publishing Corporation are hereby ordered to: Desist from printing, copying, importing, revising,
distributing, reproducing, promoting, and selling (of the subject) textbooks and copies thereof
including copies of the Revised Editions or other formatted version of said works,” ruled Judge
Villadolid, who also ordered the defendants to solidarily pay the complainant P24.7 million in total
damages.
     
SMPC’s lawyer, intellectual property rights (IPR) expert Oscar M. Manahan, stressed that the
landmark case provided a model for copyright owners who are pursuing suits against infringers.
 
“This decision recognizes the Philippine government’s commitment to the Berne Convention to
fully recognize, protect and enforce IPRs in the country. The Berne Convention on Copyrights where
Philippines and China are signatories have committed to fully recognize and to enforce the Philippine
decision under the reciprocity provisions in the treaty,” Manahan emphasized.
 
With the RTC decision, Manahan stressed that while Fujian is a foreign firm based in China,
its act constitutes copyright infringement pursuant to the Berne Convention for the Protection of
Literary and Artistic Works on 1 August 1951, to which China became a signatory in 1992.
     
The case stemmed from the printing contract forged between SMPC and defendants for the
printing of SMPC textbooks in Fujian’s factory in China. SMPC issued Authority to Print Textbooks
three times to Fujian in September, October and November 2009.
     
SMPC also issued a Purchase Order in December 2009 to Fujian for printing of additional
textbooks (Development Reading Power for Grade 1 to 6 and Pagpapaunlad Ng Kasanayan Sa Pagbasa) for
P11,347,781.08 covering a total of 301,000 copies of textbooks worth P300 each.
     
But Fujian did not deliver the textbooks to SMPC and instead issued to MITC the Authority to
Enter into Contract to Market and to Sell the textbooks.
     
Allianz imported the textbooks from Fujian, China and sold them in the Philippines.
    
The court noted that MITC was able to secure copyrights of the subject textbooks through a
notarized Deed of Assignment of Copyright in March 2010, which was found to be a forged document.
     
Citing a report from the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory presented by the
complainant, the RTC held that the signature of Catabijan in the deed was forged.
 
“In light of the totality of evidence at hand, the Court finds that plaintiffs were able to
preponderate their claim of forgery against the Deed of Assignment of Copyright dated 12 March 2010.
In view of its invalidity, the Certificates of Copyright Registration dated 18 January 2012 relied
upon by defendants Uy, et. al. to prove defendant MITC’s copyrights are therefore void,” the lower
court held.
     
“Accordingly, at the time defendant Fujian authorized defendant MITC to enter into a contract
to market and sell the textbooks covered under P.O. dated 7 December 2010 and at the time defendant
Allianz sold and/or offered for sale the Subject Textbooks, the copyrights of said books, as well as
all the other books mentioned above for which plaintiff SMPC was issued copyright registration
certificates, belong to plaintiff SMPC.”
     
The court further stressed that the acts committed by MITC, Uy, Fujian and Allianz without the
copyright owner’s prior consent make them “civilly and criminally liable for copyright infringement.”
 
“The Court finds the concerted acts of defendants in bad faith. Indeed, it was established
that defendant MITC is an industrial partner of the defendant Fujian and defendant Uy has shares in
defendant Fujian, defendant Uy is the President of defendant MITC and the Chairman and CEO of
defendant Allianz, and defendant Allianz is the sole distributor and marketing subsidiary of defendant
MITC with respect to the subject textbooks,” the court declared.