Once more with feeling, TVJ sings ‘Eat Bulaga’

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Once more with feeling, TVJ sings �Eat Bulaga�
Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time since moving to TV5, Eat Bulaga original hosts Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon (TVJ), along with the “legit dabarkads,” opened their noontime show E.A.T. singing the Eat Bulaga theme song without having to mute the word “Bulaga.”

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines had ruled in TVJ’s favor over their trademark dispute with TAPE Inc., canceling the latter’s trademark registration of Eat Bulaga and EB.

TAPE Inc. is the blocktime producer of the 44-year-old noontime show Eat Bulaga, with a new set of hosts, on GMA 7.

“It is Joey who coined and created these marks in 1979 in my kitchen, in White Plains. In our petition, we explained the significance of the design and the origin of each word that comprises Eat Bulaga,” Tito said in a statement before a press briefing at TV5’s Studio 4 in Mandaluyong.

While he acknowledged that the favorable decision is “just the beginning,” it is “indeed a milestone and welcoming development to our legal claims.”

Asked by The STAR yesterday as to when they will officially use Eat Bulaga for the program itself, Tito said, “Perhaps after the presscon or after the day, we will discuss other legal matters on our own. Everyone knows, even the people we interview in the (segment) Sugod Bahay, they thank EAT, Eat Bulaga. They know, people know. Eat Bulaga is TVJ, TVJ is Eat Bulaga.”

For his part, Vic said, “Perhaps when others stop using it and show respect, that might be the right time.”

But according to TVJ’s legal counsel Enrique dela Cruz of Divina Law, the TVJ is free to use Eat Bulaga not just in the theme song but as program title “anytime.”

He said, “They can use it even before the decision came out because their registration is not entertainment. Their registration is for merchandise, like Tito Sen said.”

“Now it is the government who said that the rightful owner of the title Eat Bulaga is TVJ, so they should respect it so that only one will use it,” he added.

TAPE’s legal counsel Maggi Abraham-Garduque earlier said that the blocktime producer will “avail of all legal actions/remedies to reverse this decision.”

Tito said they welcome moves to appeal, saying, “We know and we feel we’re standing on the right side of the fence, so anybody has the right to appeal, OK lang. It is not a problem.

Dela Cruz said that within 10 days, they expect TAPE to file an appeal to the director of the Bureau of Legal Affairs, who will “decide on the matter within 30 days.”

But Dela Cruz urged TAPE to respect the decision, emphasizing that the government has spoken, and TVJ is the rightful owner of the Eat Bulaga title.

He pointed out that TAPE’s only basis for using the title, their trademark registration, is now canceled.

“Their only basis for using Eat Bulaga is that they have a trademark registration. The government said that is already cancelled, that they were not the creators. They have no basis anymore, why would they still use it?” Dela Cruz said.

Nevertheless, this latest development is considered by TVJ as an early Christmas gift.

“Definitely, it’s a Christmas gift. We’re so happy about it, being officially recognized by the government, not just by the people, by law,” Tito said in response to a STAR question.

TVJ as well as other hosts of Eat Bulaga severed ties with TAPE and left GMA 7 after 28 years last May 31, resulting in a bitter feud over trademark ownership.

Asked if there’s room for “forgiveness” and reconciliation this season, Joey said, “Actually, we still love them after 44 years of being together. It is them who do not love us. We have no hard feelings for them. But they should respect us,” before adding in his signature humor, “Pagbigyan naman nila kami kasi ugod-ugod na kami.”

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