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Asia Brewery v PARTIES INVOLVED: ISSUE:

CA  San Miguel Corporation (SMC) FACTUAL ISSUE


 Asia Brewery Inc. (ABI)  Whether or not ABI, by manufacturing and selling its BEER
No infringement PALE PILSIN in amber colored steinie bottle with white painted
nor unfair HOW THE DISPUTE STARTED rectangular label has committed trademark infringement and
competition  SMC filed a COMPLAINT against ABI for infringement of unfair competition against SMC (NO)
between beer trademark and unfair competition on the against of ABI’s BEER LEGAL ISSUE
bottles of SMC and PALE PILSEN or BEER NA BEER product which has been  WON ABI infringes SMC’s trademark: San Miguel Pale Pilsen
ABI competing with SMC’s SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN with Rectangular Hops and Malt Design, and thereby commits
unfair competition (NO)
Use of Test of RULING OF RTC: Dismissed the case
Dominancy  ABI has not committed trademark infringement or unfair ON FACTUAL ISSUE
competition against SMC NO. ABI’s BEER PALE PILSEN label or “design” DOES NOT INFRINGE
the SMC’s SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN WITH RECTANGULAR MALT
RULING OF CA: Reversed the RTC (There is infringement) AND HOPS DESIGN
 ABI is guilty of infringement of trademark and unfair  Applying the TEST OF DOMINANCY to determine the
competition infringement, stated hereunder are the dominant features of
 ABI are permanently enjoined and restrained from SMC and ABI’s trademark
manufacturing, putting up, selling, advertising, and offering
Beer Pale Pilsen and under labels substantially identical with or SMC ABI
like the bottles and labels of San Miguel Corporation SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN, BEER PALE PILSEN, with the
 Asia Brewery to render an accounting and pay San Miguel written in white Gothic letters word “Beer” written in large
Corporation all payments derived by ABI from operations and with elaborate serifs at the amber letters, larger than any
sale of goods bearing the mark “Beer Pale Pilsen” beginning and end of the letters of the letters found in the SMC
“S” and “M” on an amber label.
MAIN ARGUMENT OF SMC background across the upper
 There was indeed unfair competition arising from the allegedly portion of the rectangular design.
confusing similarity in the general appearance or trade dress of
ABI’s BEER PALE PILSEN  Based on the findings, the word BEER does not appear in SMC’s
 SMC claims that the “trade dress” of BEER PALE PILSEN is trademark and the word “SAN MIGUEL” do not appear in ABI’s
“confusingly similar” to its SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN because trademark. Hence, there is absolutely no similarity in the
both are bottled in 320 ml. steinie type, amber-colored bottles dominant features of both trademarks
with white rectangular labels  Neither is sound, spelling or appearance can BEER PALE PILSEN
be said to be confusingly similar to San Miguel Pale Pilsen
DESCRIPTION OF THE TRADEMARK OF SAN MIGUEL  No one who purchases BEER PALE PILSEN can possibly be
 a rectangular design [is] bordered by what appears to be deceived that it is SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN
minute grains arranged in rows of three in which there appear in  Please see table of comparison between SMC and ABI’s
each corner hop designs. trademark on the lower part of the second column. Thanks!
 At the top is a phrase written in small print ‘Reg. Phil. Pat. Off.’
and at the bottom ‘Net Contents: 320 Ml’ The dominant feature USE OF THE WORDS PALE PILSEN DOES NOT CONSTITUTE
is the phrase ‘San Miguel’ written horizontally at the upper INFRINGEMENT OF SMC’s TRADEMARK
portion.  Pale Pilsen are generic words descriptive of the color (“pale”),
 Below are the words Pale Pilsen’ written diagonally across the of a type of beer (“pilsen”), which is a light bohemian beer with
middle of the rectangular design. a strong hops flavor that originated in the City of Pilsen in
 In between is a coat of arms and the phrase ‘Expertly Brewed.’ Czechoslovakia and became famous in the Middle Ages.
The ‘S’ in ‘San’ and the ‘M’ of ‘Miguel,’ ‘P’ of ‘Pale’ and ‘Pilsen’  PILSEN: is primarily geographically descriptive word
are written in Gothic letters with fine strokes of serifs, the kind  Hence, since the words are generic, it is non- registerable and
that first appeared in the 1780s in England and used for not appropriable by any beer manufacturer. They belong to the
printing German as distinguished from Roman and Italic. PUBLIC DOMAIN
 Below ‘Pale Pilsen’ is the statement ‘And Bottled by’ (first line,  The words “pale pilsen” may not be appropriated by SMC for its
‘San Miguel Brewery’ (second line), and ‘Philippines’ (third exclusive use even if they are part of its registered trademark:
line).” SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN

ABI DID NOT FRAUDULENTLY INTENT TO PALM OFF ITS BEER PALE
DESCRIPTION OF ABI’s TRADEMARK PILSEN AS SMC’S PRODUCT
 a rectangular design bordered by what appear to be buds of  PROOF: ABI has printed its name all over the bottle of its beer
flowers with leaves. The dominant feature is ‘Beer written product: on the label, on the back of the bottle, as well as on the
across the upper portion of the rectangular design. bottle cap
 The phrase ‘Pale Pilsen’ appears immediately below is smaller  Thus, those are indications that ABI has no intention to confuse
block letters. To the left is a hop design and to the right, written the consumer that ABI’s products are the products of SMC
in small prints, is the phrase ‘Net Contents 320 ml.’  The Court believes that it is quite unlikely that a customer of
 Immediately below ‘Pale Pilsen’ is the statement written in average intelligence would mistake a bottle of BEER PILSEN for
three lines ‘Especially brewed and bottled by’ (first line), ‘Asia SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN
Brewery Incorporated’ (second line), and ‘Philippines’ (third
line),” ON LEGAL ISSUE
NO UNFAIR COMPETITION.
GOOD TO KNOW CONCEPTS  The fact that BEER PALE PILSEN like SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN
WHAT IS INFRINGEMENT is bottled in amber-colored steinie bottles of 320 ml. capacity
 SECTION 22 of TRADEMARK LAW: Any person who shall use, and is also advertised in print, broadcast, and television media,
without the consent of the registrant, any reproduction, does not necessarily constitute unfair competition.
counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation of any registered mark  The use by ABI of the steinie bottle, similar but not identical to
or trade-name in connection with the sale, offering for sale, or the SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN bottle, is not unlawful.
advertising of any goods, business or services on or in  SMC did not invent BUT MERELY BORROWED the steinie bottle
connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion or from abroad and SMC does not have any patent nor trademark
mistake or to deceive purchasers or others as to the source or protection for that bottle shape and design
origin of such goods or services, or identity of such business  Thus, SMC does not have EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY of the bottle
 The use of someone else’s registered trademark, trade name or size, shape, and color. Being the first user of a steinie bottle does
service mark is unauthorized, hence, actionable, if it is done not give SMC a vested right to use it to the exclusion of everyone
“without the consent of the registrant.” else
 Being of functional or common use, and not the exclusive
WHAT IS UNFAIR COMPETITION invention of any one, it is available to all who might need to use
 employment of deception or any other means contrary to good it within the industry.
faith by which a person shall pass off the goods manufactured
by him or in which he deals, or his business, or services, for USE OF AMBER COLOR IN THE BEER BOTTLES OF ABI DOES NOT
those of another who has already established goodwill for his CONSTITUTE AN ACT TO IMITATE SMC’S BOTTLE
similar goods, business or services, or any acts calculated to  The amber color is a functional feature of the beer bottle. As
produce the same result pointed out by ABI, all bottled beer produced in the Philippines
is contained and sold in amber-colored bottles because amber is
the most effective color in preventing transmission of light and
provides the maximum protection to beer.
COMPARISON OF SMC AND ABI’s BEER BOTTLES
SMC ABI SUPREME COURT’S FINAL STATEMENT REGARDING THE DESIGN OF
bottle has a slender tapered neck bottle has a fat, bulging neck BEER BOTTLES IN RELATION TO INFRINGEMENT
words “pale Pilsen” on SMC’s words “pale pilsen” on ABI's  No one can have a monopoly of the color amber for bottles, nor
label are printed in bold and bottle are half the size and of white for labels, nor of the rectangular shape which is the
laced letters along a diagonal printed in slender block letters usual configuration of labels.
band on a straight horizontal  Needless to say, the shape of the bottle and of the label is
band. unimportant.
Bottled by the San Miguel Especially brewed and bottled by  What is all important is the name of the product written on the
Brewery, Philippines,” Asia Brewery label of the bottle for that is how one beer may be distinguished
Incorporated, Philippines from the others.
bottle carries no slogan Has slogan: BEER NA BEER!
Bottle carries the SMC logo, bottle has no logo. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS OF SUPREME COURT
bottle cap is stamped with a coat bottle cap is stamped with the  the names of the competing products are clearly different and
of arms and the words “San name “BEER” in the center, their respective sources are prominently printed on the label
Miguel Brewery Philippines” surrounded by the words and on other parts of the bottle, mere similarity in the shape
encircling the same “Asia Brewery Incorporated and size of the container and label, does not constitute unfair
Philippines competition.
Priced at 7.00 pesos per bottle Priced at 4.25 per bottle  The steinie bottle is a standard bottle for beer and is universally
used. SMC did not invent it nor patent it.
 Registration of SMC’s beer bottles did not give SMC a patent on
the steinie or on bottles of similar size, shape or color
 There is no confusing similarity between the competing beers
for the name of one is “SAN MIGUEL” while the competitor is
plain “BEER” and the points of dissimilarity between the two
outnumber their points of similarity.