CA affirms copyright case ruling; Chinese firm, local partners ordered to pay over P20M damages
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) upheld a Manila court’s decision finding a Manila-based Chinese company and its local partners liable for copyright infringement and awarded over P20-million in damages to a Filipino publishing company.
In an 11-page decision promulgated April 11, 2019 but recently posted on its website, the CA’s 11th division affirmed in its entirety the Dec. 8, 2017 decision of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 24 Judge Ma. Victoria Soriano-Villadolid.
The Manila Court ordered defendants M.Y. Intercontinental Trading Corp. (MITC), Allianz Marketing and Publishing Corp. (Allianz) and China-based firm Fujian New Technology Color Making and Printing Company, LTD (Fujian) to pay St. Mary’s Publishing Corporation (SMPC) and its owner Jerry Vicente S. Catabijan damages of over P22.57-million plus over P2-million for the cost of suit.
MITC, Allianz and Fujian took the case to the Court of Appeals for reversal citing error of fact or law by the Manila Court.
Philippines and China are party signatories to the Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic works.
In affirming the Manila Court’s ruling, the Court of Appeals said “we find no merit in the instant petition” adding that it did not find the RTC in error in its ruling, aptly citing prevailing jurisprudence on the matter and found no controversy on what the law is given the statement of facts in the instant case.
The appeals court also found the supposed Deed of Assignment from which petitioners supposedly derived an authority to sell the books that private respondents were claiming as theirs was not valid and subsisting.
The appellate court concluded that the findings of RTC are borne out by the evidence on record and cannot but be respected, saying the findings of the trial court are accorded not only the highest respect, but also finality, unless some weighty circumstance has been ignored or misunderstood but which could alter the result and could affect the judgment to be rendered.
“Far from petitioners’ conclusion that the RTC erred in ruling that it [Manila RTC] infringed on the copyright of respondents and finding them solidarily liable to pay damages, Attorney’s Fees and Costs of Suit…we find to the contrary.”
“Indeed, the RTC was not in error in its ruling aptly citing prevailing jurisprudence on the matter. There is no doubt or controversy on what the law is, given the statement of facts in the instant case,” read the court’s ruling.
The appellate court also sustained Villadolid’s order requiring the petitioners to desist from printing, copying, importing, revising, distributing, reproducing, promoting and selling of pertinent textbooks of SMPC and copies thereof, including copies of the revised editions or other formatted versions of said works.
The case arose from the printing contract between SMPC and the petitioners for the printing of SMPC textbooks in Fujian’s factory in China.
SMPC issued Authority to Print Textbooks three times to Fujian in September, October and November 2009.
However, Fujian did not deliver the textbooks to SMPC and instead issued to MITC the Authority to Enter into Contract to Market and to Sell the textbook.
Allianz, on the other hand, imported the textbooks from Fujian, China and sold them in the Philippines.
The decision was written by Associate Justice Ricardo R. Rosario and concurred in by Nina G. Antonio-Valenzuela and Perpetua T. Atal-Paño. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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