The Philippines: Confusingly similar corporate names
On August 3 2016, the Supreme Court, in GR 184008 docketed as Indian Chamber of Commerce of the Phils Inc (ICCPI) v Filipino-Indian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Inc (FICCPI), affirming the decisions of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Court of Appeals (CA), ruled that ICCPI is identical and deceptively or confusingly similar to FICCPI, and that the latter has a better right to the FICCPI name.
The facts are as follows. The Filipino-Indian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc (defunct FICCPI) was registered with the SEC on November 24 1951. However, it failed to request an extension of its corporate term on November 24 2001, hence its corporate existence expired on that date.
On January 20 2005, Maresh Mansukhani reserved the name FICCPI with the SEC. This was opposed by Ram Sitaldas who claimed to be a member of the defunct FICCPI, on the ground that FICCPI has been in use for a long time by the defunct FICCPI and that, hence, said name reservation by another person who is not its member is illegal. The SEC however, denied Sitaldas's opposition, and the latter appealed to the CA. While this case was pending, the SEC issued the certificate of incorporation to FICCPI.
Both the CA and the Supreme Court affirmed the SEC decision, and held that a corporation is ipso facto dissolved as soon as its term of existence expires. The SEC rules provide that the name of a dissolved corporation cannot be used by other firms for a period of three years, which was complied with by FICCPI when it reserved said name in 2005. The Supreme Court further held that the term "Filipino" is descriptive and cannot be considered as an effective differentiating medium necessary to avoid confusion.
Editha R Hechanova
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