COCKTALES | Ramon Ang's Eagle tarred in trademark tussle with Lafarge
The online news portal of TV5
San Miguel president Ramon S. Ang's privately-held Eagle Cement has lost the first round of an expected prolonged trademark war with the French-controlled Lafarge cement group over his continued use of the "Eagle" name and the predatory bird's identical logo.
Aside from the first victory in late January, the listed Lafarge Republic Inc. last month also won the remaining five related intellectual property violation cases it had filed against Eagle Cement.
Lafarge, formerly Republic Cement, had been selling the Eagle brand of cement since 1992, predating Ang's Eagle Cement trademark application in June 2008.
Still, Ang's application was approved by the Bureau of Trademarks in December 2010, after initial findings that the old Republic Cement had, for still unclear reasons, abandoned its earlier attempt to register the Eagle brand.
Ang's Eagle Cement also claimed it had been merely outsourcing the production of the questioned brand from Iligan Cement, the licensed manufacturer of the Eagle Cement brand.
In its defense, the Ang company said every cement sack it distributed and sold under the questioned brand carried the proper attribution "A Quality Product of Iligan Cement Corporation."
But Lafarge countered that Iligan Cement had become one of its subsidiaries since 2007, and that Iligan, more seriously, has not extended any licensing agreement with Ang's Eagle Cement to use the same trademark.
"As in all cases of colorable imitation, the unanswered riddle is why, of the millions of terms and combinations of letters and designs available, (Eagle Cement) had come up with a mark identical or so clearly similar to another's mark if there was no intent to take advantage of the goodwill generated by the other mark," said Nathaniel Arevalo, legal director of the Intellectual Property Office.
According to the grapevine, Ang shook up the multinational-dominated industry with his price undercutting since his San Ildefonso, Bulacan cement factory started operations in late 2010.
Lafarge is represented within the listed cement conglomerate by investment banker Aloysius Colayco as chairman and retired Bank of the Philippine Islands president Aurelio Montinola III as vice chairman.
Eagle Cement has the option to appeal to IPO Director General Ricardo Blancaflor, a former defense and later justice undersecretary under the GMA administration, whose decisions may still be reviewed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
Bengzon Negre Untalan represented Lafarge in the trademark suit, while Mandaue City law firm Bagay-Villamor & Fabiosa appeared for Eagle Cement.
Goldilocks loses 6 US stores amid schism
The rumored family split within Goldilocks has finally been confirmed.
The country's largest bakeshop chain lost its Southern California network of six branches after one wing of the owners Leelin clan seceded, renaming the breakaway branches as Leelin Bakery & Cafe.
"It (was) a difficult decision borne out after one and a half years of painstaking evaluations, analysis and planning," Leelin Enteprises president Mendrei Leelin told Los Cerritos News last week.
"Now, we have the blessings of my father's younger sisters running the main office in San Francisco after we sat down with them, discussed our plan in the region and reached an amicable agreement," he added.
Leelin's father is Manuel Leelin, who migrated to the United States during the martial law years to establish the Los Angeles foothold of Goldilocks, the bakery chain founded in 1966 by his younger sisters Clarita Leelin-Go and Milagros Leelin-Yee.
The two sisters also later established a toll-manufacturing facility in California, Clarmil, with their eldest brother out of the loop.
A former governor of the Development Bank of the Philippines, the elder Leelin used to operate a string of businesses in Manila, including the Leelin Motors and Leelin Batteries, until he migrated in the mid-1970s and, from his Southern California base, helped finance the anti-Marcos opposition.
Despite the breakaway, Leelin Bakery & Cafe will essentially have the same core food and bakery menu as Goldilocks, but with more engaged customer service and enhanced food presentation away from the turo-turo style.
With the split, Goldilocks retains the two remaining Southern California branches in National City and Temecula, as well as the eight stores in Northern California and the lone Nevada outlet in Las Vegas.
To emphasize its Filipino origins, Leelin Bakery & Cafe meanwhile hired US-based Pinay singer Lani Misalucha to sing its new jingle as well as star in its TV/YouTube commercial.
Heard through the grapevine
Toyota Alabang had been thwarted in its attempt to use the commercial slogan "Home of the Virgin Cars" after the local representatives of Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group objected to the use of the "Virgin" name.
Toyota Alabang had wanted to capitalize on the Virgin name to emphasize that its various vehicles are being delivered to the showroom via carriers, unlike other dealers which have the vehicles driven by themselves from the factory, or the port, to their respective showrooms.