Posted in Mercantile Law case digests

Sasot vs. People GR No. 143193 (June 29,2005)

FACTS:

          The National Bureau of Investigation conducted an investigation pursuant to a complaint filed by the NBA Properties, Inc. against petitioners for possible violation of Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code on unfair competition. Based on the report from the NBI, they have conducted two investigations due to the petitioners’ alleged participation in the manufacture, printing, sale and distribution of counterfeit “NBA” garment products, which led to the search and seizure of several items from petitioner’s establishment. 

          Before arraignment, petitioners filed a Motion to Quash on the ground that, the facts charged do not constitute an offense and that the court did not have jurisdiction over the offense charged or the person of the accused. Petitioners contend that since the complainant is a foreign corporation not doing business in the Philippines, and cannot be protected by Philippine patent laws since it is not a registered patentee. Petitioners aver that they have been using the business name ALLANDALE SPORTSLINE, INC. since 1972, and their designs are original and do not appear to be similar to complainants, and they do not use complainants logo or design.

           In the Comment/Opposition filed by the trial prosecutor of Manila RTC Branch 1, it stated that the State is entitled to prosecute the offense even without the participation of the private offended party, as the crime charged is a public crime, as provided for in the Revised Penal Code.

          The trial court sustained the prosecution’s arguments and denied petitioners’ motion to quash which lead to the filing of a special civil action for Certiorari with the CA. According to the CA, the petition is not the proper remedy in assailing the denial of the  quashal motion, and that the grounds raised therein should be raised during the trial of the case on the merits.

          Petitioners sought for the reconsideration of the Decision, but was denied by the CA, hence this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not a foreign corporation not doing business in the Philippines and not licensed to do business in the Philippines have the right to sue for unfair competition.

HELD:          The petition must be denied.

          While petitioners raise in their motion to quash the grounds that the facts charged do not constitute an offense and that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the offense charged or the person of the accused, their arguments focused on an alleged defect in the complaint filed before the fiscal, complainants capacity to sue and petitioners exculpatory defenses against the crime of unfair competition.

          More importantly, the crime of Unfair Competition punishable under Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code is a public crime. It is essentially an act against the State and it is the latter which principally stands as the injured party. The complainant’s capacity to sue in such case becomes immaterial.

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