[Mirror] Chua, Antonio Francis

SY 2011-2012, First Semester


Would it be appropriate for a broadcast company to say follow them on a particular social networking site?

The use of a particular social networking site by a broadcasting company under such circumstance is not appropriate. Social networking sites are known by their trade names (e.g. twitter or facebook). Under the law, trade names are any individual name or surname, firm name, device or word used by manufacturers, merchants, and others to identify their business, vocations or occupations. [1] It is attached to natural or juridical person who does business and produces the goods or services. It identifies and distinguishes an enterprise. There is no need to register in order to secure protection from unauthorized use.

Trade names are expressly protected by RA 8293 “Intellectual property Code”. Under Section 165.2 “(a) Notwithstanding any laws or regulations providing for an obligation to register trade names, such names shall be protected, even prior to or without registration, against any unlawful act committed by third parties. (b) In particular, any subsequent use of the trade name by a third party, whether as a trade name or a mark or collective mark, or any such use of a similar trade name or mark, likely to mislead the public shall be deemed unlawful.

Furthermore, Section 169.1 provides “ Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of facts, which (a) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person;

An action for infringement may therefore be maintained without proof of anything more than the right to the exclusive use of the registered mark or trade name and that the defendant has violated it. No allegation of proof of fraud or intent to defraud is necessary. [2]

In this case, the use of the trade name of the social networking sites by a broadcast company creates a likelihood of confusion of business work. Such reference to the trade name of the social networking sites would cause mistake, or deceive or mislead the public as to their affiliation, connection, or association or sponsorship of the services of the broadcasting company. Therefore, such use may be deemed unlawful.


Endnotes

[1] Converse Rubber Corp. v. Universal Rubber Products, Inc. G.R. L-27425, L-30505, April 28, 1980

[2] Compania General de Tabacos v. Alhanbra Cigar, Co., 33 Phil 485 (1916)


“Can we as ordinary citizens create our own version of Wikileaks.org and post therein sensitive documents pertaining to the anomalies of the State and major corporations?”

No, we as ordinary citizens cannot create our own version of Wikileaks.org and post therein sensitive documents pertaining to the anomalies of the state and major corporations. WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. The website Wikileaks is known for releasing secret, controversial government documents. Wikileaks was created to allow people, whether they are journalists, government workers or anyone else – to publish sensitive documents without worrying about their jobs or their safety. Anyone can submit documents to the site. If the editorial team thinks that they are important enough, they are published anonymously.

In the Philippines, Article III Section 4 of the Constitution provides that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. This freedom of speech, expression, and of the press is not absolute. It must be exercise within the limits provided by law. The posting of sensitive documents pertaining to anomalies may come from unauthorized disclosure of classified information or documents illegally obtained which can jeopardized and can have harmful implications for the lives of the individuals and corporations identified to such anomalies which can be a ground for a criminal case for libel against the person who post documents on such website. Moreover, Wikileaks.org can be construed as an online whistle-blower, and in the Philippines there is still no law protecting Whistleblowers of any criminal, civil or administrative liability thus ordinary citizens when posting sensitive documents in the site can be made liable.

Moreover, Article III Section 7 of the Constitution provides that “ the right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.” Clearly, as stated from the provision, the freedom of information is subject to limitations provided by law, ordinary citizens cannot therefore have protection for publishing and reporting classified and sensitive and unauthorized documents or information pertaining to anomalies of the state and major corporations.


Privacy Issue in Philippine Law and Jurisprudence Repositories

Privacy is based on the theory of natural right. It is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves to unsanctioned invasion of privacy by the government, corporations or individuals. Its boundaries and content differ among cultures and individuals, but share basic common themes. The degree to which private information is exposed therefore depends on how the public will receive this information, which differs between places and over time. In the Philippines, the right to privacy is protected under various privacy laws such as Article 26 of the Civil Code which states that “every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons and the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. On the other hand, Repositories of Law and Jurisprudence (e.g. Chan Robles, LawPhil,and others) are storage location from which law and judicial decisions are stored which may be retrieved by the public for educational, social or other uses.

A question arises as to whether repositories of law and jurisprudence such as Chan Robles, LawPhil and others can be compelled by a private person whose name was mentioned in a case decided by the Supreme Court to removed it on a claim that it violates right to privacy.

My position is in the negative. In this case, we have to take into consideration that judicial decisions forms part of the legal system of the Philippines (Article 8 of the New Civil Code). This are public records vested with public interest. Section 7 of Article III of the Constitution provides that “the right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law”.

Therefore an apparent conflict with the privacy right of an individual at this case should yield to the general welfare and interest of the public since this judicial decisions are already part of the legal system.

The individual is not left without any remedy as there are laws which protects right to privacy of individual whose name was mentioned in the case like Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004″.

Section 44 of this Act provides “Confidentiality. – All records pertaining to cases of violence against women and their children including those in the barangay shall be confidential and all public officers and employees and public or private clinics to hospitals shall respect the right to privacy of the victim. Whoever publishes or causes to be published, in any format, the name, address, telephone number, school, business address, employer, or other identifying information of a victim or an immediate family member, without the latter’s consent, shall be liable to the contempt power of the court.

The Supreme Court in People vs Cabalquinto (G.R. No. 167693, September 19, 2006) to enforced this provision withheld the real name of the victim, and used fictitious initials instead to represent her. This scheme would be more appropriate but still this is based on express grant of the law, applicable only on the persons specified therein. Absence of such law a person whose name was mentioned in case cannot invoke his right to privacy. The Repositories of Law and Jurisprudence cannot therefore be compelled to remove the case or even his name.

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