Tito, Vic, and Joey win ‘Eat Bulaga’ dispute as IPOPHL cancel’s TAPE’s trademark

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) has canceled the trademark registration of “Eat Bulaga” by Television and Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE), ruling that it was Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey De Leon who came up with the name.

This prompted the popular trio TVJ (Tito, Vic and Joey) to immediately celebrate the ruling and use “Eat Bulaga” as they sang the show’s theme song in their noontime show which has moved from GMA 7 to TV 5.

In a decision dated Monday, December 4, IPOPHL Bureau of Legal Affairs Adjudication Officer Josephine Alon ordered the cancelation of TAPE’s trademark registrations for Eat Bulaga and EB for certain uses such as merchandising.

In a statement on Wednesday, December 6, IPOPHL said the “decisions were received by the parties on December 5, 2023.”

IPOPHL said the cases “initially underwent compulsory mediation,” but that they failed to reach an agreement. The petitions were then sent for adjudication, and both sides submitted their evidence.

 Below is the full statement of IPOPHL on the cancellation of TAPE’s Eat Bulaga trademark registration:

“On recent queries regarding the cancellation of the Television and Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE) registration of the “EAT BULAGA” and “EB” trademarks No. 4-2011-005951 and No. 4-2011-005950, respectively, IPOPHL confirms that the petitions for cancellation were granted last
December 4, 2023, and the decisions were received by the parties on December 5, 2023.

“As provided for under the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA) procedures, the cases initially underwent compulsory mediation. As the parties failed to settle, the petitions were referred to adjudication at which stage hearings were held to inspect and compare the parties’ respective evidence, followed by submission of position papers. After which, the Adjudication Officer rendered the decisions.

“The decisions of the Adjudication Officer may be appealed to the BLA Director within 15 days from receipt of the decisions. In turn, the appellate decisions of the BLA Director may be appealed to the IPOPHL Director General within 30 days from receipt of the copy of the BLA Director’s decisions.

“The EAT BULAGA and EB registrations that are covered by TM Reg. No. 4-2011-005951 and No. 4-2011-005950 are for Nice Classes 16, 18, 21 and 25.”

TAPE, which is the blocktime producer of the 44-year-old noontime show Eat Bulaga, however, continued using “Eat Bulaga” for its noontime show on GMA 7 claiming they are awaiting the final decision from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) where they plan to file an appeal or motion for reconsideration for its earlier ruling.

In a statement, TAPE’s legal counsel Atty. Maggie Garduque said that they respect the law, “thus it will follow the procedure.”

“As confirmed by the statement released by IPO today, TAPE has a period of 15 days to appeal the decision of the adjudication officer to the Director of the BLA-IPO. Then, appealed decisions may still be appealed to the Director General of IPO within 30 days,” the statement said.

Prior to the statement, TVJ, held a press conference at TV 5 where they asked TAPE to stop using “Eat Bulaga” following the IPO’s decision.

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

“It is Joey who coined and created these marks in 1979 in my kitchen, in White Plains. In our petition, we explained the significance of the design and the origin of each word that comprises Eat Bulaga,” Tito said in a statement before a press briefing at TV5’s Studio 4 in Mandaluyong City.

While he acknowledged that the favorable decision is “just the beginning,” it is “indeed a milestone and welcoming development to our legal claims.”

According to TVJ’s legal counsel Enrique dela Cruz of Divina Law, the TVJ is free to use Eat Bulaga not just in the theme song but as program title “anytime.”

In response, TAPE’s statement said, “As regards the plea of TVJ not to use Eat Bulaga, TAPE will continue to use the name Eat Bulaga for its noontime show pending the appeals.”

“The appeal will be considered moot and academic if it heeds to the plea of TVJ. In the same vein, TAPE likewise hopes that TVJ will not use Eat Bulaga pending the appeals in accordance with the law and rules and wait for the finality of the decision,” it added.

Tito said they welcome TAPE’s moves to appeal, saying, “We know and we feel we’re standing on the right side of the fence, so anybody has the right to appeal, OK lang. It is not a problem.

In a 16-page decision, the IPOPHL ruled in favor of TVJas the rightful owners of the “Eat Bulaga” trademark after they provided qualified testimony and explanation on the origin of the show’s name.

TAPE had admitted that it was De Leon who suggested the name but insisted it was TAPE chief Romeo Jalosjos Sr. who chose it from among a list of names recommended for the show.

“Having sufficiently established how Petitioners coined the Eat Bulaga mark, it is petitioners [TVJ] and not Respondent-Registrant [TAPE] who owns the mark,” Alon said.

“Based on the foregoing and considering that Petitioners are the originator of the Eat Bulaga mark, the Bureau resolves to grant Petitioners petition to cancel Certificate of Registration No. 4-2011-005951,” she added.

On May 31, TVJ parted ways with TAPE, the GMA 7 blocktime producer of “Eat Bulaga.” In July, they filed a copyright infringement complant against the company for using the name “Eat Bulaga.”

In response to the complaint, TAPE said they have the “registration of the trade name ‘Eat Bulaga’ so they cannot file infringement against the registered owner of the trademark.”