A ruling by the Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld a suit filed by boxing icon Manny Pacquiao against the local distributor of the popular karaoke microphone Wow “Magic Sing” which, he claimed, used his photograph in its advertisements without his consent.
In a 14-page decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, the CA’s Special 17th Division affirmed a lower court decision turning down the claim of Andres Sanchez, president of G2K Corporation, distributor of Wow Magic Sing .
The distributor claimed Pacquiao’s amended complaint for the alleged illegal use of his face should be turned down on a technicality, particularly for failing to allege material facts that would constitute the elements of a crime in violation of the Intellectual Property Code.
The CA turned down the distributor’s argument, saying it “cannot see the point of petitioner in saying the amended information failed to allege materials facts constituting the elements of Section 169.1 to Section 170 of the IPC and it merely contains conclusions of facts of law, violative of his right to be adequately and properly informed of the nature and cause against him.”
The CA said the distributor failed to prove the lower court judge’s grave abuse of discretion.
On April 5, 2006, Pacquiao filed a complaint before the QC RTC for violation of the provisions of the IPC claiming that G2k and IAJ publicly misrepresented and unlawfully used, without prior permission and consent, his named, image and goodwill with the intention to convey his personal endorsement of the Wow magic sing microphone.
In its decision, the lower court ruled that the image rights that pertain to a public figure are protected in Section 169.1 of the IPC. The pertinent IPC section reads:
“Any persons who, or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which is likely to cause confusion or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person” can be held liable for false representation.
The Court said Pacquiao’s amended information sufficiently informs petitioner of the charges against him.
Sanchez’s G2K and In-A-Jiffy Enterprises (AIJ), a sole proprietorship owned by Sanchez’ daughter Ma. Cristina extended full support to Pacquiao in his January 22, 2006 bout against Mexican fighter Eric Morales by placing several advertisements in the television coverage of the fight.
The two firms also gave their customers free copies of the VCD of the said fight as aired over the television.
G2K and IAJ’s representatives initially negotiated with Jimmy Lim, a shareholder of Astrovision, Inc., a retail chain selling audio and video reproductions in the form of compact discs, digital video discs and other related products, and one of the retailers of Wow Magic Sing.
Lim suggested that G2K and IAJ should consider purchasing Pacquiao’s CD album and give it for free to customers who would buy a Wow Magic Sing package. G2K and IAJ then agreed with the plan and bought more than 3,000 copies of Pacquiao’s album and prepared the initial lay-out of the advertisement.
Reggie Sandel, sales manger of Star Records advised Lim that the logos of D’ Loverboy Productions, as publisher of the CD album, Pacquiao-Camo records, as producer and Star Records, as distributor should be included in the advertisement.