By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, May 30 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

THE Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed a December 2017 Manila court decision finding a Chinese company and its three local partners guilty of copyright infringement and ordering them to pay P24.7 million in damages to a Philippine publisher.

In an 11-page decision dated April 11, the CA 11th division upheld the decision of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 24.

“Indeed, the RTC was not in error in its ruling aptly citing prevailing jurisprudence on the matter. There is no doubt or controversy on what the law is, given the statement of facts in the instant case,” the court said.

The Manila court found that Fujian New Technology Color Making and Printing Co. Ltd., M.Y. Intercontinental Trading Corp. (MITC), Tedwin T. Uy, and Allianz Marketing and Publishing Corp. guilty of Copyright Infringement and ordered them to pay damages to St. Mary’s Publishing Corp. (SMPC) and its President Jerry Vicente S. Catabijan.

SMPC and Mr. Catabijan filed the civil case after entering a contract with MITC to print its textbooks but MITC failed to deliver the books. However, it was found that Fujian New Technology authorized MITC to enter into a contract to sell the books, and the textbooks were then imported by MITC and Allianz, and sold through Allianz.

The RTC in its decision directed MITC, Mr. Uy, Fujian New Technology, and Allianz to “desist from printing and distributing the textbooks and were ordered to pay damages of P18.06 million, moral damages of P1 million, exemplary damages of P2 million, attorney’s fees of P500,000 and court costs of.

MITC, Mr. Uy, and Allianz appealed the court’s decision to the CA.

The CA also affirmed the finding of the RTC that the Deed of Assignment, from which the petitioner derived its authority to sell the books, “indicated flaws in its notarization” and it had “not been properly executed.”

The decision was written by Associate Justice Ricardo R. Rosario and concurred in by Associate Justice Nina G. Antonio-Valenzuela and Perpetua T. Atal-Paño.

In a statement, Oscar M. Manahan, lawyer for SMPC, said he believes that the CA’s affirmation of the decision “is consistent with the Philippine commitment to recognize and to enforce Copyright Laws in the Philippines being a party to Berne Convention.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas