Liquor company slammed for naming drinks after Philippine heroes

Louis Bacani (The Philippine Star) - June 18, 2014 - 10:53am

MANILA, Philippines â€” Senator Pia Cayetano on Wednesday lambasted a liquor company's plan to name its alcoholic beverage products after historical Filipino figures and places.

Cayetano said the plan of Destileria Limtuaco, Inc. (DLI) to register names of several Philippine heroes as its own trademarks "threatens to desecrate, misappropriate and trivialize their national and historic significance."

A search on the trademarks database on the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) website will reveal that DLI applied for the use of the names of historical figures and places such as "Rizal," "GomBurZa" (Padre Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora), "Intramuros," "Banaue," "Laguna" and "Vigan."

The applications, according to the IPO website, are still pending.

"Dr. Jose Rizal, Gat Andres Bonifacio and the three martyred priests all laid their lives for the freedom and rights we enjoy today, and this is how Destileria Limtuaco intends to honor them? Or are they simply taking advantage of their good names to reap the benefits by having their names and images emblazoned on their bottles of whisky, gin, brandy and rhum?" asked Cayetano, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

"It boggles my mind that the corporate executives of this company are so callous and un-Filipino that they would appropriate the names of Philippine heroes and landmarks for use on their alcoholic products which are known vices," the senator added.

Cayetano also criticized the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for allowing the initial approval of DLI's application to register "Intramuros," as a liquor brand.

She said a trademark examiner has the discretion to deny an application during the substantive examination based on Section 123 of the Intellectual Property Code (IPC).

She explained that the particular section of the IPC sets very strict guidelines when registering a mark associated with names, national symbols and geographical areas

"I cannot understand how the IPO, a government agency that is tasked to uphold the law and the national interest, would allow the name of a national heritage site to be reduced into a brand of an intoxicating beverage? The IPO could have used its authority instead to reject the application outright," Cayetano said.


The senator also called as "markedly opportunistic and insensitive" the DLI's application to register "Tacloban" as a trademark.

"A check with the IPO website would show that DLI's application to register 'Tacloban' was filed last March 31, or just four months after supertyphoon Yolanda brought widespread destruction to that city. Its residents have barely recovered from the death of relatives, loss of homes, livelihoods and basic services," Cayetano said.

"Tacloban has become a global symbol of Filipino resilience, hope, recovery and cooperation. And this liquor company has the gall to misappropriate it for selfish ends and corporate profits," she added.

Cayetano said she fully supports the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Intramuros Administration in opposing DLI's trademark applications with the IPO.

Philstar.com tried to get the reaction of DLI through email, but the company has yet to respond as of writing time.

In a statement issued last week, the NCCA expressed its strong opposition to the applications of DLI, saying no person or corporation should have any right of ownership over the names of historic figures and places.

"Historic persons, national heroes and heritage sites are given the highest level of recognition and dignity by the State and imbued with public interest," the NCCA said. "Thus, their misappropriation for commercial enterprises or products not only distracts from the achievements of these persons or the importance of these sites, but sends the message that their names can be desacralized, privately owned and used to enrich private interests."

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