Philippine noontime show faces IP issues
08 June 2023
Eat Bulaga, the longest-running noontime show in the Philippines, is currently facing IP issues after the ownership of the show’s title and trademarks are in question. But according to Arjel de Guzman, founding director at OPTMARKS, this is not necessarily a trademark issue alone. Looking back at how the show’s lead hosts and production company parted ways, he said that “there is a lot left to be talked about in terms of intellectual property rights and ownership.”
Television shows, including Eat Bulaga, are confounded with different components protected using different IP regimes. For one, the public must understand that TV show formats are generally not protectable under copyright laws. Hence, the question of who “owns” Eat Bulaga as a TV show, or rather who has the right to put up an identical or similar show format, is out of the question because there is no monopoly in the adoption of TV formats.
However, TV shows may be dissected into different parts to be protected under different IP regimes. Theme songs used in the show, tunes, jingles, written scripts and storyboards may also be protected by copyright. Thus, identifying the authorship and ownership of these works is vital.
“Eat Bulaga has a very prominent opening theme song that has transcended different generations of audiences,” said de Guzman. “It will be interesting to know who holds the different rights relative to the same. There is also the issue of ownership and publishing rights of the recorded TV show episodes. Ownership of the recordings is usually defined by contractual relations between the producer and other creators involved in the process.”
On the other hand, the name of the show itself, including the names of its segments, logos, and even slogans, may be the subject of trademark protection if proven to be distinctive enough.
“The show’s name has been at the forefront of the issue because, by their very nature, trademarks are very effective tools of commercial communication,” said de Guzman. “The public easily identifies the TV show by its name Eat Bulaga, proving that such a trademark possesses fundamental commercial value and goodwill. Hence, news coverage nowadays focuses on the ownership and the right to use the ‘EAT BULAGA’ mark. But as I stated, several IP issues are at play here not only trademarks.”
He adds: “It would be difficult to predict Eat Bulaga’s future if I were to be very honest. A lot hangs in the balance, and most of them rely on the actions of the parties moving forward. There may even be the possibility that everything would be ironed out through negotiations, which I always think is the better way forward. But for sure, this case again is a stern reminder to the public how important intellectual property is.”
- Excel Dyquiangco