Thursday, November 28, 2013

Philippines decision on refilling

Thailand recently clarified the law on refilled products - see here. The Philippines also heard a Supreme Court decision on a similar matter in 2013.  The dispute began when Shell and Petron via the NBI raided a company refilling LPG bottles in 2004. The case concerned LPG bottles bearing the complainants' SHELLANE and GASUL marks which the defendant Republic Gas had been refilling.  

Following the raid, the case went through the DOJ inquiry in 2005 but was rejected. An appeal against the prosecutor's refusal to file a case at court was filed, and the Secretary of Justice confirmed there was no trademark infringement by Republic. On further appeal by Shell and Petron, the Court of Appeals. So Republic appealed finally to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court confirmed that unauthorized use of empty branded containers can amount to trademark infringement, provided all the offence are met, including the requirement of confusion.

That doesn't however answer the question. This 8 year appeal was against a prosecutors refusal to file a case at court. Now the DoJ can issue an order to start the trial. The trial judge will then be able to determine whether the case on the facts was one of trademark infringement. We may need to wait 8 years to find out however....




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