Commercial Law

Francisco Joaquin, Jr. vs Franklin Drilon

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G.R. No. 108946 – 302 SCRA 225 – Mercantile Law – Intellectual Property Law – Law on Copyright – Game Show – Ideas and Concepts Not Covered by Copyright – Presentation of the Master Tape

BJ Productions Inc. (BJPI) was the holder of copyright over the show Rhoda and Me. It holds rights over the show’s format and style of presentation. In 1991, BJPI’s president Francisco Joaquin saw on TV – RPN 9’s show It’s a Date, a show which is basically the same as Rhoda and Me. He eventually sued Gabriel Zosa, the manager of the show It’s a Date. The investigating prosecutor found probable cause against Zosa. Zosa later sought a review of the prosecutor’s resolution before the Secretary of Justice (Franklin Drilon). Drilon reversed the findings of the fiscal and directed him to dismiss the case against Zosa.

ISSUE: Whether or not the order of Drilon finding no probable cause is valid.

HELD: Yes. The essence of copyright infringement is the copying, in whole or in part, of copyrightable materials as defined and enumerated in Section 2 of PD. No. 49 (Copyright Law). Apart from the manner in which it is actually expressed, however, the idea of a dating game show is a non-copyrightable material. Ideas, concepts, formats, or schemes in their abstract form clearly do not fall within the class of works or materials susceptible of copyright registration as provided in PD. No. 49. What is covered by BJPI’s copyright is the specific episodes of the show Rhoda and Me.

Further, BJPI should have presented the master videotape of the show in order to show the linkage between the copyright show (Rhoda and Me) and the infringing show (It’s a Date). This is based on the ruling in 20th Century Fox vs CA (though this has been qualified by Columbia Pictures vs CA, this is still good law). Though BJPI did provide a lot of written evidence and description to show the linkage between the shows, the same were not enough. A television show includes more than mere words can describe because it involves a whole spectrum of visuals and effects, video and audio, such that no similarity or dissimilarity may be found by merely describing the general copyright/format of both dating game shows.

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