PLDT.com Press Release <http://www.pldt.com>
Last Monday, December 13, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) admitted in court that when it filed suit against Mr. Gerardo (Gerry) Kaimo, registered owner of the website pldt.com, and the Philippine League for Democratic Telecommunications Inc. (PLDTI), alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition, it had not, in fact, obtained registration of the trademarks covering the initials 'PLDT' and its corporate logo in any of the evidence it had previously presented in its allegations of trademark infringement.
Attorney Vicente Amador of the Sycip Salazar law offices made this admission upon the resumption of the hearings over PLDT's attempt to obtain an injunction and damages against the satirical website, which, in addition to assuming an anti-local-call-metering stand, has also commented on local politics and consumer issues and provided discussion boards for Internet surfers to voice their own opinions on some of these matters.
"They don't own the trademark over the initials and the logo, and they established their website more than two years before Gerry Kaimo even registered the domain name pldt.com, and more than two and a half years before the pldt.com website went up. Where is their case?" asked Attorney Teddy Cruz, legal counsel for Kaimo.
Last Monday's proceedings also saw the end of the cross-examination of Horacio Lavides, PLDT's director of media relations, by Attorney Rod Domingo, legal counsel for PLDTI. Previously, Lavides was the subject of spirited debate over his testimony as an expert witness on media affairs and, more specifically, on the estimation of irreparable damage to PLDT's corporate reputation. Over the vigorous objections of both defense counsels at the onset of the admission of witnesses, Judge Reynaldo Daway allowed the characterization of Lavides as an expert witness on the above-mentioned subject matters.
When asked by Domingo what evidence he had to show that PLDTI was, in fact, a party to the ownership or the authorship of the pldt.com website, Lavides took several minutes to go through his files, and produced a photocopy of a boycott notice authored by PLDTI that had been posted on Kaimo's website in February of this year. When asked if he had any other evidence, Lavides took over 10 minutes to go through his files again, prompting Judge Daway to ask if Lavides was ready to answer.
A minute after Judge Daway's prompting, Lavides produced another page from the website, one which contained a link entitled 'no-to-metering'. When asked by Domingo how he could assume that pldt.com is the domain of PLDTI, Lavides replied it was a logical conclusion, since he was informed that Kaimo was part of PLDTI, he assumed that PLDTI was tied to pldt.com. "He may think it's a logical conclusion, but he has yet to produce any solid evidence to support his conclusion, which still makes it an assumption," said Domingo afterward.
Under further cross-examination, Lavides admitted that he was aware that when PLDT registered its own domain name, pldt.com.ph, the domain name pldt.com was owned by someone else, but that PLDT did not feel the necessity to find out the identity of the owner.
When asked why PLDT did not try to find out the name of the website owner of pldt.com at the time they had registered pldt.com.ph, Lavides replied that it was because "we were already happy with pldt.com.ph." When did you decide to file suit? Domingo continued? "When we saw the use of the website to inflict irreparable damage against the corporation," Lavides replied. When asked to define 'irreparable damage', Lavides answered, "Something that cannot be calculated."
When asked about avenues for responding to perceived derogatory remarks and statements, Lavides said that derogatory remarks and statements should be answered in the same medium, in the same forum, adding that they had access to other forums, such as newspapers, radio and television, but because they were "releases that were not paid for, we have no control over how the releases will be treated".
Don't you have pldt.com.ph? Domingo asked. "Although we have our own website, we should be able to answer the questions in the same pldt.com website, " Lavides said.
So did you choose to answer in the same pldt.com website? "No," Lavides said. When asked why not, Lavides answered that it was because they were not sure their reply would be treated properly.
"They have every opportunity to respond either on pldt.com.ph, their own website, or directly on pldt.com, and they have all these excuses why they choose not to. It sounds to me as if PLDT is not very tolerant of any complaints against the company, and they don't seem to be interested in any opinions but their own. It is becoming more and more obvious that their suit is a direct assault on my client's right to free speech, which coincides perfectly with their local-call metering campaign, which will make it even costlier to speak," said Cruz afterward.
The hearing resume on January 13, 2000, at 2 PM in QC Regional Trial Court, Branch 90. _____________________________________________________________
For press queries, please contact: Atty. Susan Santos CRUZ, ENVERGA & LUCERO 25/F., Cityland 10, Tower 1, 6815 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Tel Nos.: 8124203/8928210 Fax: 8104244
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