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MANILA, Philippines – Television and Production Exponents Incorporated (TAPE) stopped using Eat Bulaga! on its noon show on television channel GMA-7 on Saturday, January 6, a day after a court ordered it, as well as the GMA Network (GMA), to stop using the trademark on the Philippines’ longest-running noon show.
TAPE adopted the name Tahanang Pinakamasaya (Happiest Home) instead of Eat Bulaga! for its show, now led by former Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and actor Paolo Contis. TAPE is the blocktimer for the show on GMA-7 until end of 2024.
Late Friday, January 5, it was disclosed that a Marikina Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruled in favor of comedians Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon (TVJ) who had sought an injunction on TAPE’s use of Eat Bulaga and the initials EB on GMA-7, the country’s number one free tv channel.
The court “permanently enjoined” TAPE and GMA from using the Eat Bulaga and EB trademarks, including logos, on its shows, programs, projects, and promotions.
They were also ordered to stop using the Eat Bulaga! song, and from airing playbacks of all recorded episodes of Eat Bulaga! prior to May 31, 2023, the day TVJ left TAPE. TAPE, however, had already stopped using the Eat Bulaga song in July 2023 as it unveiled a rap-like song for its show.
The Marikina RTC also urged the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) to “cause the cancellation” of the trademark registrations of TAPE from its records.
Last December, adjudication officer of the IPOPHL had already ruled in favor of TVJ on the trademark cancellation but this was for the use of Eat Bulaga for merchandise. De Leon also won a separate trademark registration for entertainment use case before the IPOPHL last year. TAPE has appealed both rulings before the IPOPHL.
Following their victory on Friday, Vic Sotto said in a video posted on TVJ Facebook, “Sa madaling salita, atin talaga ang Eat Bulaga!” (In other words, we are the real owners of Eat Bulaga!)
On Saturday, the trio started using Eat Bulaga! on their E.A.T. show on the Kapatid network, TV5, with all the Legitdabarkads (Legitimate Friends) wearing t-shirts with the Eat Bulaga! logo.
In a statement on Saturday, GMA said the Marikina RTC found that the network “was a mere nominal party to TVJ’s suit,” and that the trio “never claimed any damages in their complaint as against GMA.”
“For accuracy and clarity of the public, the Regional Trial Court clearly found that GMA did not commit any act of copyright infringement or unfair competition against the plaintiffs as it was merely complying with its contractual commitments under its airtime agreement with co-defendant TAPE,” the broadcast company said.
In addition, GMA said it will comply with the court’s directive not to air playbacks of Eat Bulaga! prior to May 31, 2023 in its platforms.
“Nevertheless, GMA Network will refer the matter to our external counsel to avail of the proper remedies before the appellate courts,” the network said.
De Leon coined Eat Bulaga for their noon show back in 1979, but it was TAPE owner, ex-convict Romeo Jalosjos, who chose it from list of names given to him.
TAPE went on to produce the show Eat Bulaga for over four decades, the longest under GMA.
TAPE and TVJ, however, had a falling out last year over how to run the show, prompting TVJ to leave the outfit on May 31, 2023.
They then created a new noon show, E.A.T., on businessman Manny V. Pangilinan’s network, TV5, which began airing July 1, 2023.
TAPE’s legal counsel Maggie Garduque has said on several occasions that they will appeal all rulings all the way to the Supreme Court in the event they lose these separate cases.
Noon shows are a lucrative business for producers and networks with many companies still finding it useful to promote products and services while viewers have their lunch. Although the television audience has plateaued in the Philippines, many poor Filipino families still tune in to free television for entertainment. – Rappler.com
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