• CA orders indictment of Kentex executives

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    THE Court of Appeals (CA) has finally closed the door and ordered the indictment of officers of Kentex Corporation for trademark infringement after offering and selling to the public their sandals, which are allegedly imitations or copies of the “Havaianas” sandals.

    The CA had junked a motion for reconsideration of Kentex for failure to present new arguments that warrant reversal of their previous ruling.

    In a two-page resolution, dated March 15, 2016, written by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose Reyes and Stephen Cruz, the CA’s Fifth Division stood pat in its previous findings and granted the petition for a review filed by Sao Paola Alpargatas S.A. (SPASA).

    The CA has reversed and set aside resolutions of the Department of Justice (DOJ) dated May 28, 2013 and December 5, 2013, which cleared Kentex.

    “After a careful perusal of private respondent’s arguments, we find that the latter have not advanced any compelling reason that would warrant the reconsideration of our decision.

    The question on the existence of grave abuse of discretion raised in the present motion for reconsideration has been already resolved in the affirmative and covered extensively in our decision,” the resolution reads.

    It can be recalled that the fire at the Valenzuela City (Metro Manila) 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 Manufacturing in exchange for a P151,200 settlement.

    But that case differs from the complaint of SPASA, a Brazil-based company, and the registered owner of the trademark “Havaianas,” wherein their products are made available to the Philippine market through Terry S.A. Inc., SPASA’s exclusive distributor in the Philippines.

    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 firm alleged that Kentex’s “Havana” sandals are colorable imitations of the marks owned and registered under the name of SPASA.

    But, the OCP-Caloocan City denied SPASA’s claims, prompting the firm to seek redress with the Department of Justice by means of a petition for review, but to no avail. This time, SPASA elevated the case to the CA.

    In its October 14, 2015 decision made public only recently, the CA held that then-Justice Secretary Leila De Lima committed a grave abuse of discretion in affirming the dismissal of the petitioner’s criminal complaint before.

    “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 8293, as amended.”

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