DEL MONTE V. SUNSHINE SAUCE- Infringement of Trademark and Unfair Competition
In making the comparison to determine similarity, the question is NOT whether the two articles are distinguishable by their label when set side by side but whether the general confusion made by the article upon the eye of the casual purchaser who is unsuspicious and off his guard, is such as to likely result in his confounding it with the original. The court therefore should be guided by its first impression because the imitator will always try to create enough differences to confuse the Court but enough similarity to confuse the public.
Petitioner Del Monte Corporation is a foreign company organized under the laws of the United States and not engaged in business in the Philippines. Both the Philippines and the United States are signatories to the Convention of Paris of September 27, 1965, which grants to the nationals of the parties rights and advantages which their own nationals enjoy for the repression of acts of infringement and unfair competition.
Petitioner Philippine Packing Corporation (Philpack) is a domestic corporation duly organized under the laws of the Philippines. Del Monte granted Philpack the right to manufacture, distribute and sell in the Philippines various agricultural products, including catsup, under the Del Monte trademark and logo. Del Monte authorized Philpack to register with the Philippine Patent Office the Del Monte catsup bottle configuration, for which it was granted Certificate of Trademark Registration No. SR-913 by the Philippine Patent Office under the Supplemental Register. Del Monte also obtained two registration certificates for its trademark "DEL MONTE" and its logo. Respondent Sunshine Sauce Manufacturing Industries was issued a Certificate of Registration by the Bureau of Domestic Trade to engage in the manufacture, packing, distribution and sale of various kinds of sauce, identified by the logo Sunshine Fruit Catsup. The product itself was contained in various kinds of bottles, including the Del Monte bottle, which the private respondent bought from the junk shops for recycling.
Having received reports that the private respondent was using its exclusively designed bottles and a logo confusingly similar to Del Monte's, Philpack and Del Monte filed a complaint against the private respondent for infringement of trademark and unfair competition.
Sunshine alleged that its logo was substantially different from the Del Monte logo and would not confuse the buying public to the detriment of the petitioners.
Whether or not there was infringement of trademark and unfair competition.
Section 22 of R.A. No. 166, otherwise known as the Trademark Law, provides:
Any person who shall use, without the consent of the registrant, any reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation of any registered mark or tradename in connection with the sale, offering for sale, or advertising of any goods, business or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion or mistake or to deceive purchasers or others as to the source or origin of such goods or services or identity of such business...
Sec. 29 of the same law states as follows:
Any person who shall employ deception or any other means contrary to good faith by which he shall pass off the goods manufactured by him or in which he deals, or his business, or services for those of the one having established such goodwill...
To arrive at a proper resolution of this case, it is important to bear in mind the following distinctions between infringement of trademark and unfair competition.
(1) Infringement of trademark is the unauthorized use of a trademark, whereas unfair competition is the passing off of one's goods as those of another.
(2) In infringement of trademark fraudulent intent is unnecessary whereas in unfair competition fraudulent intent is essential.
(3) In infringement of trademark the prior registration of the trademark is a prerequisite to the action, whereas in unfair competition registration is not necessary.
In determining whether two trademarks are confusingly similar, the two marks in their entirety as they appear in the respective labels must be considered in relation to the goods to which they are attached; the discerning eye of the observer must focus not only on the predorninant words but also on the other features appearing on both labels.
The ordinary buyer does not usually make such scrutiny nor does he usually have the time to do so. The question is NOT whether the two articles are distinguishable by their label when set side by side but whether the general confusion made by the article upon the eye of the casual purchaser who is unsuspicious and off his guard, is such as to likely result in his confounding it with the original.The court therefore should be guided by its first impression because the imitator will always try to create enough differences to confuse the Court but enough similarity to confuse the public. Here, although there are particular differences, such are only manifest when you conduct a thorough comparison.
We also note that the respondent court failed to take into consideration several factors which should have affected its conclusion, to wit: age, training and education of the usual purchaser, the nature and cost of the article, whether the article is bought for immediate consumption and also the conditions under which it is usually purchased. It has been aptly observed that the ultimate ratio in cases of grave doubt is the rule that any doubt should be resolved against the newcomer inasmuch as the field from which he can select a desirable trademark to indicate the origin of his product is obviously a large one. As Sunshine's label is an infringement of the Del Monte's trademark, law and equity call for the cancellation of the private respondent's registration and withdrawal of all its products bearing the questioned label from the market. With regard to the use of Del Monte's bottle, the same constitutes unfair competition; hence, the respondent should be permanently enjoined from the use of such bottles.