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Couple gets jail term for IP violation

The strengthened coordination among the agencies of the government involved in the protection and promotion of intellectual property rights is reaping results as a court in Pasig City convicted a couple for violating the Intellectual Property Code.

Regional Trial Court, Branch 167 Judge Alfredo C. Flores sentenced Loreto Lee and Sally King to a minimum of five years each in prison and fined them a total of P300, 000 for infringing on the IP rights of Japanese software and play station maker Sony.

Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines Director General Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. was notified about Flores’ verdict. The IP Philippines was also provided with a copy of the decision.

The couple, both stockholders of Lucas-Art Corporation, which is formerly located at the third floor of the Virra Mall Shopping Center in Greenhills, San Juan, were convicted on two counts each of copyright and trademark infringements and unfair competition.

A third accused, Susan Chua, jumped bail, while two others, Johnny Nubla and Emilia Nubla, remains at large. The court was informed that the husband has already fled to Canada.

“With the court’s latest decision, we now have 54 convictions on IP cases. This is an example of the result of the strengthened inter-agency coordination that we have pushed among the agencies of the government,” Cristobal said.

The inter-agency coordination was among the reasons why the Office of the United States Trade Representative removed the country from the Priority Watch List of its Special 301 report, which lists countries with problems on piracy.

The intellectual property rights division of the National Bureau of Investigatio lodged charges against Lee and King and the other accused after it seized more than 13, 000 pieces of counterfeited Sony CD play station games during a raid at the outlet of Lucas-Art Corporation on June 8, 2000.

The raid was precipitated by a test buy that was conducted by the NBI and representatives of Sony wherein they were able to purchase three pirated CDs. While an original Sony CD costs P3, 000, each of the fake CD that was bought was sold at P50.

Instead of being discouraged by the raid, the firm still went on with its trade, which prompted the same IP unit to again swoop down on its outlet on August 4,2004, wherein it confiscated more than 6, 000 pieces of pirated Sony games.

The raid was also preceded by a test buy by authorities and Sony representatives on July 31, 2003 wherein they bought three fake CDs. “There is no doubt in the mind of the court that the Lucas Art was selling, offering for sale, distributing, dealing with counterfeit Sony play station and PS devices game software of various titles with the seizure of these products during the two instances on the implementation of the search warrants,” Flores said.

The Court, while acknowledging that a corporation’s actions may be separate and distinct from its officers, stated that the piercing of the corporate veil can be resorted to where the corporation is used to perpetrate a fraud, justify a wrong, or used as a subterfuge for circumventing the law. The Court branded as “beyond comprehension” the claims of the officers that they did not know their store was selling and distributing counterfeit items because they were uninvolved in its day-to-day operations.

The accused still face identical charges in other courts, such as Quezon City RTC Branch 90, and Manila RTC Branch 24. These charges are for offenses committed by virtue of being officers in another company called Gameline Marketing Corp, which had also been raided several times for the sale of pirated PS games.

NEWS SOURCE: Intellectual Property Philippines

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