Philippines: Employer owns copyright
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Philippines: Employer owns copyright

In 2012, Michael Dewayne Brown, an American citizen, sued for copyright infringement American English Skills Development Center (AESDCI) and its shareholders Armilyn MorilloBujis, et al, for their unauthorised copying, use, reproduction and obtaining copyright registration in the name of AESDCI, of his work "Conversational English Study Guide (First Edition)", of which Brown claimed to be the creator and author.

The action was filed before the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA) of the Intellectual Property Office (IPPHL) and was docketed as IPV No 10201200004. From the records of the case, it appeared that AESDCI was formed by Brown who invited the respondents to join him, without making any monetary investments, as Brown claimed. During the trial, the following facts were established by documentary and testimonial evidences: (i) Brown prepared Conversational English Study (the work), (ii) in many versions of the work, the words "Copyright@AESDCI" appeared, and Brown admitted having placed these words on the work himself, (iii) in 2006, upon establishment of AESDCI, Brown had a fixedterm contract with AESDCI appointing him as contract director, and when this contract expired, a consultancy agreement was entered into by Brown with AESDCI appointing him as instructor with a description of his work.

In this consultancy agreement, part of his duties and responsibilities was to "develop Training Policies and Procedures Manual...." and "develop and write Training Manuals, English Educational Materials and Lesson Plans".

The BLA Hearing Officer opined that while Brown's contract is denominated as a consultancy agreement, the description of his duties, in addition to the contract being on an exclusive basis, falls within the duties of a regular employee. As a regular employee who originally prepared the manual Conversational English Study Guide, and in the absence of an agreement identifying Brown as owner of the copyright, it is the respondent employer AESDCI who truly owns the copyright, as ruled by the Hearing Officer quoting Section 178.3 of the IP Code of the Philippines:

In the case of work created by an author during and in the course ofHis employment, the copyright shall belong to:

(b) The employer, if the work is the result of the performance of his regularly assigned duties, unless there is an agreement express or implied to the contrary.


Editha R Hechanova

Hechanova & Co., Inc.Ground Floor, Salustiana D. Ty Tower104 Paseo de Roxas Ave, Makati City 1229PhilippinesTel: +632 888 4293Fax: +632 888 4290

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