Court of Appeals orders indictment of Kentex executives

MANILA, Nov. 2 (PNA) -- The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the indictment of the executives of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation (Kentex) for trademark infringement after offering and selling to the public their sandals which are allegedly imitations or copies of the "Havaianas" sandals.

In a 10-page ruling written by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, the CA's Fifth Divison granted the petition for review filed by Sao Paola Alpargatas S.A. (SPASA).

The CA reversed and set aside the resolutions of the Department of Justice (DOJ) dated May 28, 2013 and Dec. 5, 2013.

It can be recalled that the fire at the Valenzuela City factory supposedly owned by Kentex that makes rubber slippers claimed 72 lives and sparked outrage over the allegedly unsafe conditions, which contributed to the high death toll.

Some families of the 72 people who perished in the incident have allegedly dropped their claims against Kentex in exchange for a Php151,200 settlement.

However, that case differs to SPASA's complaint, a Brazil-based company, and the registered owner of the mark "Havaianas" wherein their products are made available to the Philippine market through Terry S.A. Inc., SPASA's exclusive distributor in the Philippines.

However, it filed a complaint for trademark infringement and damages before the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) of Caloocan City against Ong King Guan and Mary Grace Ching, Kentex's treasurer/general manager and corporate secretary, respectively.

The company alleged that Kentex's "Havaiana" sandals are colorable imitations of the marks owned and registered under the name of SPASA.

However, the OCP-Caloocan City denied SPASA's claims that prompted the company to seek redress with the DOJ through a petition for review but to no avail.

This time SPASA elevated the case to the CA.

In its Oct. 14, 2015 ruling, the CA said that then DOJ Secretary Leila M. De Lima committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming the dismissal of petitioner's criminal complaint before the OCP-Caloocan City.

"In the present case, we are convinced that there clearly exist facts sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that the offense of trademark infringement has been committed and that private respondents [Guan and Ching] are probably guilty thereof," the CA said.

"The [OCP-Caloocan City] is ordered to file an Information charging [Guan and Ching], as owners/officers/employees of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation (Kentex) with trademark infringement under Sec. 155 of Republic Act No. 8293, as amended," it added.

Concurring in the ruling were Associate Justices Jose Reyes and Stephen Cruz. (PNA)

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