Court favors Tito, Vic and Joey in ‘Eat Bulaga’ copyright row vs. TAPE, GMA

There is now only one “Eat Bulaga” noon-time television show.

And that is the “Eat Bulaga” hosted by Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon or TVJ on their new home, TV 5.

 This as the Marikina City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has affirmed that television hosts Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon own the trademarks “Eat Bulaga” and “EB” in a ruling that came weeks after the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPO) similarly issued a decision siding with the trio.

With the court decision, the trio of Tito, Vic and Joey, known popular as the “TVJ,” now uses the complete name “Eat Bulaga” in their TV 5 show which started only as “E.A.T” following their breakaway with their producer TAPE on GMA 7.

In keeping with the court order, TAPE and GMA 7, for their part, dropped the name “Eat Bulaga” and change their noontime show name to “Tahanang Pinakamasaya” with former Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagoso still leading its hosts.

The January 6 episode of “Tahanang Pinakamasaya” began with Moreno acknowledging the court decision and that the network would follow suit even as TAPE plans to file an appeal.

“Pero, fresh episode tayo mula ngayon! Laging good vibes lang at love, love, love dahil ang mahalaga, hangga’t nandiyan po kayo, kami ni Paolo [Contis] at ang aming mga kasama dito sa ‘Tahanang Pinakamasaya,’ tuluy-tuloy ang tulong at saya at sorpresa, all unli-sorpresa,” Moreno said.

Behind Moreno and Contis were audience members holding up balloons and banners in support of Contis, Alexa Miro, and twins Cassy and Mavy Legaspi, who were celebrating their 23rd birthday.

TAPE’s Facebook page has also changed its cover photo with the image of the title card that reads: “Tahanang Pinakamasaya.”

TVJ, meanwhile, celebrated their victory by singing the “Eat Bulaga”  theme song while wearing t-shirts that bore the show’s name on today’s episode of their noontime show on TV5.

“Eto ang totoo. Eto ang tinadhana. Eto ang tunay na ‘Eat Bulaga,'” said Vic.

TAPE said that it is seeking to appeal the court ruling in a statement released to GMA News.

TVJ announced on Friday that they won in the copyright infringement and unfair competition case they filed against Television and Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE) and GMA-7.

According to a statement of Tito Sotto, the Marikina City RTC Branch 273 handed down the decision on Dec. 22, although TVJ’s lawyers only received a copy on Friday.

It said the court ruled that Joey de Leon came up with the name “Eat Bulaga,” as it noted TAPE’s “failure to make a categorical and specific denial of the claim of Joey.”

A portion of the ruling stated that TAPE and GMA are permanently barred from using “EB” and “Eat Bulaga,” as well as the popular noontime show’s jingle.

They were also prohibited from airing and broadcasting a playback of any and all recorded episodes of the show prior to May 31, 2023.

The court further directed TAPE to pay the plaintiffs a total of ₱3 million “for committing unfair competition and copyright infringement,” as well as for exemplary damages and attorney’s fee.

On Dec. 5, 2023, the IPO also granted TVJ’s petition to cancel the certificate of registration issued to TAPE in 2013.

In May 2023, the long-time hosts resigned from the production company, citing mistrust of the new management as one of their reasons. Shortly after, they signed an agreement with Mediaquest Group, making TV5 their new home.

The three have remained firm on keeping the title “Eat Bulaga!” for their new show with TV5. (Jennifer T. Santos)