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The Levi's Case in Bohol
« on: November 12, 2007, 09:09:43 AM »
The Bohol Chronicle

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol Branch 4, Tagbilaran City recently issued a decision dismissing Civil Case 5541 for Recovery of Illegally Seized Articles and Damages filed by Cirilo Raotraot against Levi Strauss (Phils.) Inc., Atty. Richard W. Sison, Asteria C. Caberte, Romulo A. Oppus, Angeline C. Briones, and Supt. Hiram Benatiro.

Judge Achilles L. Melicor, RTC-4 presiding judged penned the decision after almost 4 years of handling the case.

In a 12-page decision received by the Department of Trade and Industry-Bohol Provincial Office, Tagbilaran City, Judge Melicor issued the following ruling which we hereby quote in toto.

RULING

Plaintiff's complaint in the above-entitled case has two causes of action: Recovery of Illegally Seized Articles and Damages.

As regards the first cause of action, the plaintiff had opted not to pursue the same as the items seized by virtue of a search warrant had already been returned to him, per his pleading and open-court testimony. Thus, what is brought to focus in the instant complaint is only the plaintiff's second cause of action for damages.

In support of his claim for damages against defendants, plaintiff cited Article 20 of the New Civil Code, which provides: "Every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes damage to another shall indemnify for the same."

Plaintiff Averred that were it not of the raids conducted by herein defendants, his two business establishments would not have resulted to bankruptcy as he could no longer pay the amortization of his loan with the First Consolidated Bank (FCB) until his accumulated obligations reached P4,266,900 and his mortgaged real properties were foreclosed.

The question is posed - Did defendants commit an actionable wrong thus entitling plaintiff to damages which he now seeks in the case at bench?

It is an undisputed fact that defendant Levi Strauss (Phils), Inc. (LSPI) is the authorized licensee in the Philippines of Levi Strauss and Co. (LS and Co.). As such, LSPI is the only entity authorized to manufacture, distribute, and market, in the entire Philippines, articles of clothing, including denim jeans, bearing the Levi's Trademarks and Devices of manufacture clothing using the same.

The court is of the view and so holds that defendant LSPI's act thru defendant Atty. Sison is sending a cease and desist letter to plaintiff putting him on notice that Levi Strauss and Co. is the exclusive owner of the Levi's Trademarks and Devices and that LSPI is LS and Cos' licensee in the Phils. And in warning plaintiff that administrative, criminal, and civil proceedings would be brought against him if he failed to cease and desist from selling, offering for sale, advertising and distributing counterfeit Levi's garments is not contrary to law as in doing so it acted in good faith as it was just protecting its right over its legitimate products, Levi's garments, including Levi's jeans and therefore such exercise does not fall under the purview of Article 20 of the New Civil Code relied upon by plaintiff.

In participating in the proceedings against plaintiff Raoraot after receiving reports from the paralegal team of the law office of defendant Atty. Sison that plaintiff was found to have been engaged in the manufacture of counterfeit Levi's jeans is just an offshoot of defendant LSPI's valid and lawful exercise of their right to protect its trademark and garments more particularly Levi's jeans. More so, in the light of the admission by the plaintiff himself made in open Court that he was engaged in making counterfeit Levi's jeans upon the order of his customers being the owner of Ferrari Tailoring.

As regards the case against public defendants Asteria Caberte, Romulo A. Oppus, Angeline C. Briones and Supt. Hiram D. Binatero, the court would like to stress that "a public officer shall not be civilly liable for acts done in the performance of his official duties, unless there is a clear showing of bad faith malice and gross negligence (Par. 1, Section 38, Chapter 9, Book 1, 1987 Administrative Code).

It is undisputed that public defendants DTI officers Caberte, Oppus and Briones were just performing their duties under the mandate of Executive Order NO. 913 and DTI Orders No. 22 and 25 and that they have not been shown to have been motivated by bad faith and malice in performing their lawful duties.

On his part, defendant PNP Supt. Binatero was merely implementing the subject search warrant being a peace officer who has jurisdiction over the place to be searched and plaintiff's evidence does not show that Binatero was actuated by malice in implementing the search warrant.

All told, plaintiff's evidence is bereft of any showing that would establish any ulterior motive or personal ill-will on the part of any of the herein defendants that would warrant the granting of the reliefs sought by the plaintiff in his instant complaint for damages.

In their counterclaims against plaintiff, all the defendants failed to prove that plaintiff Raotraot was prompted by a sinister design to vex and humiliate defendants and that the instant complaint was deliberately initiated by the plaintiff knowing that the instant complaint was false and baseless.

It is axiomatic that, a person's right to litigate should not be penalized by holding him liable for damages. This is especially true when the filing of the case is to enforce what he believes to be his rightful claim against another although found to be erroneous. (Japan Ailines vs. Michael Asuncion and Jeanette Asuncion, G.R. No. 161730, (January 28, 2005).

"In the absence of a wrongful act or omission or of fraud or bad faith, moral damages cannot be awarded and that the adverse result of an action does not per se make the action wrongful and subject the actor to the payment of damages for the law could not have meant to impose a penalty on the right to litigate." (Albenson Enterprises Corporation vs. The Court of Appeals and Eugenio Baltao, 217 SCRA 16)

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Re: The Levi's Case in Bohol
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 07:49:31 PM »
paki simplify daw ni bi kay ganahan baya ko mosuot ug Levi's since high school pa ko!hot



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