CA orders indictment of Kentex officials for infringement raps

The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the indictment of the officers of Kentex Corp. for trademark infringement for selling imitations of "Havaianas" flip-flop sandals.

The CA turned down the motion for reconsideration of Kentex for failure to present new arguments.

In a two-page resolution, dated March 15, 2016, by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose Reyes and Stephen Cruz, the CA's Fifth Division upheld its previous findings and granted the petition for review filed by Sao Paola Alpargatas S.A. (SPASA).

The appellate court has reversed and set aside the resolutions of the Department of Justice (DoJ) dated May 28, 2013 and Dec. 5, 2013 which cleared Kentex.

"After a careful perusal of private respondent's arguments, we find that the latter have not advanced any compelling reason that would warrant the reconsideration of our decision. The question on the existence of grave abuse of discretion raised in the present motion for reconsideration has been already resolved in the affirmative and covered extensively in our decision," the resolution reads.

A Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) factory owned by Kentex that makes rubber slippers claimed 72 lives and sparked outrage over the allegedly unsafe conditions, which contributed to the high death toll.

Some families of the 72 people who perished in the incident have allegedly dropped their claims against Kentex Manufacturing in exchange for a P151,200 settlement.

SAPA, a Brazil-based company, and the registered owner of the mark "Havaianas" wherein their products are made available to the Philippine market through Terry S.A. Inc., SPASA's exclusive distributor in the Philippines.

It filed a complaint for trademark infringement and damages before the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) of Caloocan City against Ong King Guan and Mary Grace Ching, Kentex's treasurer/general manager and corporate secretary, respectively.

The firm alleged that Kentex's "Havana" sandals are colorable imitations of the marks owned and registered under the name of SPASA.

However, the OCP-Caloocan City denied SPASA's claims that prompted the firm to seek redress with the DoJ via petition for review but to no avail. This time SPASA elevated the case to the appeals court.

In its Oct. 14, 2015 ruling but was made public only recently, the CA held that then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming the dismissal of petitioner's criminal complaint before the Caloocan City OCP.

"In the present case, we are convinced that there clearly exist facts sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that the offense of trademark infringement has been committed and that private respondents (Guan and Ching) are probably guilty thereof," the CA opined.

"The (OCP-Caloocan City) is ordered to file an Information charging (Guan and Ching), as owners/officers/employees of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. (Kentex) with trademark infringement under Section 155 of Republic Act 8293, as amended," it said.

Source: Tribune

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