Court hears ABS-CBN's case vs Willie

Posted at 11/30/10 5:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – ABS-CBN on Tuesday presented its first witness before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 66 during the initial hearing of the Kapamilya network’s copyright infringement case against Willie Revillame.

Revillame’s production outfit, WilProductions Inc., and TV5 network are also named respondents in the P127-million case.

ABS-CBN executive Marilou Almaden took the witness stand Tuesday to testify that Revillame was not the only one who developed the concept of his former ABS-CBN noontime show, “Wowowee.”

Almaden was part of the group who conceptualized “Wowowee.”

According to Almaden’s testimony, “Wowowee’s” format also belongs to ABS-CBN because creating the popular noontime show was a group effort.

Lawyer Bong Somera, lead counsel of ABS-CBN, added: “Willie was not the only one who put the show together… Hindi namin siya pinipigilang lumabas sa kanyang programa, huwag lang gamitin ang konsepto ng ‘Wowowee’ dahil ABS ‘yon. Come up with something unique naman.”

Judge Joselito Villarosa deferred releasing a decision and set another hearings on Thursday and Friday of this week when the defense is expected to cross-examine Almaden and other witnesses of ABS-CBN. 

Revillame, on the other hand, said he is ready to reformat his new show if the Makati RTC decides in favor of ABS-CBN.

Revillame’s fans and some staff of “Willing Willie” showed up during the hearing to express their support to the controversial television host.

Even President Benigno Aquino III’s former girlfriend, Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad, was there to support Revillame.

Soledad is Revillame’s female co-host on “Willing Willie.”

The staff of “Willing Willie” did not deny that there were some similarities between the 2 shows, but they said what’s important is that their program is giving joy to its viewers.

No revenge

Amid criticisms, Bong Osorio, head of ABS-CBN Corporate Communications, clarified that the network is not seeking revenge by filing numerous cases against Revillame.

“Ang ABS-CBN ay nagsampa ng kaso para ma-protektahan ang karapatan nito sa ilalim ng batas. Hindi ito paraan ng paghihiganti sa kahit na sino man,” Osorio said.

“Ang infringement ng intellectual property rights ay isang seryosong kaso na maihahalintulad natin sa pagnanakaw. Para rin itong plagiarism na mariing ding ikinukundena ng publiko.

“Lehitimo at may katwiran ang kasong isinampa ng ABS-CBN at ipaglalaban pa rin nito ito sa korte,” he added.

In its complaint filed on November 24, ABS-CBN accused the respondents of infringing on ABS-CBN’s copyright over “Wowowee.”

ABS-CBN stated that, as the producer of “Wowowee,” it is the legal owner of a valid and subsisting copyright over each and every one of the Wowowee episodes, and is thus entitled to protection against those who steal its work.

ABS-CBN alleged that Revillame's new show, “Willing Willie,” on TV5 is so closely similar to “Wowowee,” leaving no doubt that Revillame and the other defendants "deliberately and intentionally imitated 'Wowowee' to steal the goodwill that Wowowee has built over the past 5 years of airing in ABS-CBN."

ABS-CBN alleged that TV5's act of broadcasting of the "infringing work 'Willing Willie' has caused and continues to cause irreparable damage to ABS-CBN."

Aside from seeking an award of damages in the amount of more than P127 million, ABS-CBN also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or a writ of injunction to restrain Revillame, TV5 and their other co-defendants from further producing and airing the show “Willing Willie.” –Report from Ginger Conejero, ABS-CBN News