television industry

TAPE says trademark ruling not final; Tito, Vic, Joey urge rival to stop using Eat Bulaga!

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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TAPE says trademark ruling not final; Tito, Vic, Joey urge rival to stop using Eat Bulaga!

LABAN. Paolo Contis, host of TAPE Inc.'s Eat Bulaga!, says the trademark dispute with Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon is not over, on the noon show's episode on December 6, 2023.

Screenshot/Eat Bulaga! livestream

(1st UPDATE) TAPE continues to use Eat Bulaga! on its show on GMA-7, while Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon say they will soon be using the name for their show on TV5

MANILA, Philippines – Television and Production Exponents Incorporated (TAPE) said on Wednesday, December 6, that the legal battle over the use of “Eat Bulaga” and the acronym EB is not over. 

“Mahaba pa po ang laban. Ibig sabihin, legally, wala pang final (The battle will take long. Meaning, legally, it’s not final),” said Eat Bulaga! host Paolo Contis at the start of the noon show’s on Wednesday. 

“Anuman ang mangyari, ang nasimulan naming tulong at saya, tuloy-tuloy lang. Kayo ang dahilan at ito ang pinakamahalaga para sa amin (Whatever happens, the assistance and joy we started will continue. You are the reason for this show and that’s what’s important to us),” he added. 

Contis was referring to the decision of an adjudicator of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) favoring veteran comedians Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon in their trademark dispute with TAPE over the use of Eat Bulaga and EB. 

Tito, Vic, and Joey win Eat Bulaga trademark dispute

Tito, Vic, and Joey win Eat Bulaga trademark dispute

On its official Facebook account, TAPE posted a news story quoting TAPE’s lawyer as saying that TVJ still cannot use “Eat Bulaga” pending an appeal by TAPE. 

Lawyer Maggie Garduque said a decision of the Supreme Court in the CYMA trademark dispute applies to their case. 

She said TVJ cannot register a trademark that is being used by another entity, noting that TAPE’s original registration for Eat Bulaga and EB in 2013 was renewed by IPOPHL in June 2023

IPOPHL said in a statement on Wednesday that TAPE can still appeal the ruling before the director of its Bureau of Legal Affairs and with the IPOPHL director general.

TAPE, owned by the Jalosjos family, is the blocktimer of Eat Bulaga! on GMA-7 until end of 2024.

On Thursday, December 7, TVJ began their episode on TV5 by using the words “Eat Bulaga” and singing the theme song that Vic Sotto wrote. 

“Alas dose na, Eat Bulaga na! (It’s 12 noon, it’s Eat Bulaga already),” shouted comedian Vic Sotto, with the hosts and the studio audience singing the theme song.

They then shouted “E.A.T….Bulaga,” after which comedian Allan K said, “Ang sarap-sarap sabihin (It’s so nice to finally be able to say it.)”

TVJ calls for respect

In a press conference on Wednesday, the Sotto brothers and De Leon urged TAPE to respect the decision of IPOPHL’s adjudicator. 

Vic Sotto said TAPE should now stop using Eat Bulaga! on its show on GMA-7 following IPOPHL’s ruling. 

“Tigilan na yung paggamit ng di naman kanila (They should stop using what is not theirs),” he said. 

“Ngayong lumabas na ang desisyon, dapat sila naman ang rumespeto,” said the elder Sotto, also a former Senate president.  

(Now that the decision has come out, they should respect it.) 

He said they have now been “officially recognized” by law, in addition to the “recognition” from the people that they are the creators of Eat Bulaga. 

De Leon coined Eat Bulaga in 1979 when the trio was thinking of a title for a new show that would go up against the then-popular noon show, Student Canteen.

He said TAPE should respect the ruling, especially since he and Tito are now senior citizens. Both are now in their seventies.

Enrique dela Cruz, lawyer for TVJ, said he hoped TAPE would respect the ruling, although he acknowledged that TAPE can still appeal the decision before the IPOPHL, and go to the Court of Appeals and all the way to the Supreme Court if they still lose.

He said TVJ had respected TAPE’s original registration of Eat Bulaga, which is why the trio opted to call their show E.A.T., not Eat Bulaga!, for their show on TV5. Now that the IPOPHL adjudicator has ruled, he said TAPE, who will now be appealing the case, should respect it. 

Dela Cruz said IPOPHL ruled that being the first to register a name does not give the registrant the right to the trademark. 

Asked when they will start using Eat Bulaga! for their TV5 show, the elder Sotto said they will meet to discuss the changes. 

Younger brother Vic said, “Siyempre papalitan. It’s a new chapter sa storya ng mga Dabarkads (Of course, it will be changed. It’s a new chapter in the story of the Dabarkads). 

On whether TAPE can use Eat Bulaga for online platforms like Facebook and YouTube, Dela Cruz said each platform has its own rules, which typically says that whoever registered the account with his/her email owns the account. 

He claimed it was a staff of TVJ who registered Eat Bulaga on these platforms, but that TAPE was able to access the accounts. – Rappler.com

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.