• Caritas Manila wins in dispute over name

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    THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has decided in favor of the Catholic-run charitable organization Caritas Manila against a health maintenance organization with a similar name.

    Caritas Manila, Inc., the lead social services and development arm of the Archdiocese of Manila, had filed a complaint against Caritas Health Shield Inc., a health care services provider, and asked the SEC to order the latter change or modify its corporate name.

    The SEC Office of the General Counsel, in its decision, acknowledged that Caritas Manila had the prior right over the name “Caritas” because it was incorporated on May 3, 1977, 18 years earlier than Caritas Health Shield, which was formed on April 25, 1995.

    Caritas Manila also provided evidence that Caritas Health Shield had a “confusingly similar name,” and that the similarity of names had led the public to perceive the two entities as related to each other.

    The charitable institution pointed out that it had received complaints of spam text messages and mistaken emails.

    Caritas Manila also claimed that Caritas Health Shield violated Section 18 of the Corporation Code, arguing that the use of the name “Caritas” infringed upon its trade name.

    The “unlawful use” of the word “Caritas” for medical health services has also damaged its public image as a charitable institution, the Catholic charity claimed.

    The SEC ordered Caritas Health Shield to change its corporate name by dropping the word “Caritas.”

    “Wherefore, premises considered, respondent Caritas Health Shield Inc. is hereby ordered to change its corporate name by removing the word ‘Caritas,’ or otherwise adopt another name through an amendment of its Articles of Incorporation, and [file]the same with this Commission within thirty (30) days from date of receipt hereof. It is further directed to submit a compliance report within the same period, enclosing therein a certified copy of the approved Articles of Incorporation,” the SEC said.

    Caritas Manila Executive Director Fr. Anton Pascual welcomed the favorable decision.

    “It cleared the name and reputation of Caritas Manila and so, the donors and most especially the people that we support will no longer be confused,” he said in a statement.

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