The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) implemented mandatory mediation proceedings in October 2010. This May, IPOPHL settled the long-contested case involving the famous local brand BINALOT, owned by Binalot Fiesta Foods (BFF), a dispute that had been dragging on since November 2007.
BFF, a 14-year-old local fast-food chain, has more than 35 branches nationwide, with locations in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Its owner, a young businessman by the name of Rommel Juan, sued his competitor, “Nid’s Binalot” for P 1 Million (approximately US $23,000) in damages. The main contention of the case was the use of the brand name BINALOT, which literally means “wrapped” in Tagalog. The brand name was first used by BFF in 1996, mainly in regard to rice meals paired with traditional Filipino dishes like adobo, bistek, and salted eggs and tomato, served wrapped in banana leaves.
After mandatory mediation proceedings were implemented, this case was one of those referred to the Mediation Committee in January 2011. Mediation began in March, and in early May the parties reached an agreement. They agreed that BFF is the only entity authorized to use the name “Binalot” in its establishments. They further agreed that the competitor’s name would be changed from “Nid’s Binalot” to “Nid’s Balot and Bilao” and the competitor would pay BFF P 20,000 (US $4,650) to cover BFF’s attorney fees. The terms and conditions embodied in the Compromise Agreement were submitted to the director of the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA) of IPOPHL for entry of judgement; however, to date, the BLA has yet to issue an order dismissing the case.