JR Lopez Gonzales 1:18 PM 1
In the local condiments business arena, a battle between a Goliath and David has been taking place. Last year, the TV was flushed with commercials of Datu Puti’s new product, “Pinoy Kurat” endorsed by the actor, Randy Santiago. For Iliganons, the product definitely rings a bell with the small-scale the nonetheless, highly successful, Suka Pinakurat.
Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development, said his committee will probe how one of the giants in the condiments industry has allegedly been allowed to strangle a small, Mindanao-based vinegar manufacturer.
"Here we have a case of a big player copying the successful brand of the small player and eventually trying to kill the small player. SAFI used its market power to undermine GGGFI and the Intellectual Property Office acting as an accomplice," adds Casiño.
It can be noted that Southeast Asia Foods, Inc. (SAFI) has been lording the condiments market. SAFI is listed as the manufacturer and distributor of Datu Puti Lines, Mang Tomas, Golden Fiesta Cooking Oil, and Nelicom Lines, among others.
Casiño said he has filed House Resolution 577 to investigate the violations committed by the former, the makers of Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat Spiced Tuba Vinegar, of the tradename and trademark of Green Gold Gourmet Foods, Inc., original maker of the Suka Pinakurat brand.
GGGFI, owned by the Stuart del Rosario family in Iligan, is a small suka manufacturer based in Iligan City. Its main product is the Suka Pinakurat, which they registered with the Philippine Intellectual Property Office in 2006, Australia’s Intellectual Property Office in 2008 and the United States Patent Office in 2009.
Rep. Casiño says that it is high time for Congress to look into unfair practices of big business corporations that unduly infringe on the successes of small enterprises.
The broadminded legislator averred that “Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat” appears to violate Section 123 of the Intellectual Property Code (Republic Act 8293) which states that “a mark cannot be registered if it is identical or confusingly similar to an already registered mark. As such, it may be considered a trademark infringement, which is a form of unfair competition.”
“What perplexes me is while the Philippine Intellectual Property Office has yet to act on the application for registration of the Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat brand, SAFI is already flooding the market, resulting in lost sales and other detrimental effects on the original Suka Pinakurat. Government has yet to do something to protect our small players in the face of this clear case of unfair and illegal competition," said Casiño.
"It is only right that we hear this to come up with new policies that will prevent big businesses from eating up the success of small corporations”, added Casiño. He said the DTI should prohibit Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat from selling their version of Suka Pinakurat until the matter is resolved.