PHILIPS EXPORT VS. COURT OF APPEALS- Corporate Trade Name
A corporation’s right to use its corporate and trade name is a property right, a right in rem, which it may assert and protect against the whole world.
Philips Export B.V. (PEBV) filed with the SEC for the cancellation of the word “Philips” the corporate name of Standard Philips Corporation in view of its prior registration with the Bureau of Patents and the SEC. However, Standard Philips refused to amend its Articles of Incorporation so PEBV filed with the SEC a petition for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, however this was denied ruling that it can only be done when the corporate names are identical and they have at least 2 words different. This was affirmed by the SEC en banc and the Court of Appeals thus the case at bar.
Whether or not Standard Philips can be enjoined from using Philips in its corporate name
A corporation’s right to use its corporate and trade name is a property right, a right in rem, which it may assert and protect against the whole world. According to Sec. 18 of the Corporation Code, no corporate name may be allowed if the proposed name is identical or deceptively confusingly similar to that of any existing corporation or to any other name already protected by law or is patently deceptive, confusing or contrary to existing law.
For the prohibition to apply, 2 requisites must be present:
(1) the complainant corporation must have acquired a prior right over the use of such corporate name and
(2) the proposed name is either identical or deceptively or confusingly similar to that of any existing corporation or to any other name already protected by law or patently deceptive, confusing or contrary to existing law.
With regard to the 1st requisite, PEBV adopted the name “Philips” part of its name 26 years before Standard Philips. As regards the 2nd, the test for the existence of confusing similarity is whether the similarity is such as to mislead a person using ordinary care and discrimination. Standard Philips only contains one word, “Standard”, different from that of PEBV. The 2 companies’ products are also the same, or cover the same line of products. Although PEBV primarily deals with electrical products, it has also shipped to its subsidiaries machines and parts which fall under the classification of “chains, rollers, belts, bearings and cutting saw”, the goods which Standard Philips also produce. Also, among Standard Philips’ primary purposes are to buy, sell trade x x x electrical wiring devices, electrical component, electrical supplies. Given these, there is nothing to prevent Standard Philips from dealing in the same line of business of electrical devices. The use of “Philips” by Standard Philips tends to show its intention to ride on the popularity and established goodwill of PEBV.