Lyceum of the Philippines v. CA – G.R. No. 101897, March 5, 1993

Petitioner Lyceum of the Philippines after a favorable case enjoining the Lyceum of Baguio from using the word “Lyceum”, Armed with the Resolution of this Court in G.R. No. L-46595, petitioner then wrote all the educational institutions it could find using the word “Lyceum” as part of their corporate name(Respondents), and advised them to discontinue such use of “Lyceum.” When, with the passage of time, it became clear that this recourse had failed, petitioner instituted before the SEC to enforce what petitioner claims as its proprietary right to the word “Lyceum.” The SEC hearing officer rendered a decision sustaining petitioner’s claim to an exclusive right to use the word “Lyceum.” On appeal, however, by private respondents to the SEC En Banc, the decision of the hearing officer was reversed and set aside. The SEC En Banc did not consider the word “Lyceum” to have become so identified with petitioner as to render use thereof by other institutions as productive of confusion about the identity of the schools concerned in the mind of the general public. Unlike its hearing officer, the SEC En Banc held that the attaching of geographical names to the word “Lyceum” served sufficiently to distinguish the schools from one another, especially in view of the fact that the campuses of petitioner and those of the private respondents were physically quite remote from each other. Petitioner then went on appeal to the Court of Appeals. In its Decision dated 28 June 1991, however, the Court of Appeals affirmed the questioned Orders of the SEC En Banc. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, without success. Hence, this case.

Whether the word Lyceum has acquired a secondary meaning in favor of petitioner.

No, “Under the doctrine of secondary meaning, a word or phrase originally incapable of exclusive appropriation with reference to an article in the market, because geographical or otherwise descriptive might nevertheless have been used so long and so exclusively by one producer with reference to this article that, in that trade and to that group of the purchasing public, the word or phrase has come to mean that the article was his produce. This circumstance has been referred to as the distinctiveness into which the name or phrase has evolved through the substantial and exclusive use of the same for a considerable period of time. Consequently, the same doctrine or principle cannot be made to apply where the evidence did not prove that the business (of the plaintiff) has continued for so long a time that it has become of consequence and acquired a good will of considerable value such that its articles and produce have acquired a well-known reputation, and confusion will result by the use of the disputed name (by the defendant) SC believe the appellant failed to satisfy the aforementioned requisites. No evidence was ever presented in the hearing before the Commission which sufficiently proved that the word ‘Lyceum’ has indeed acquired secondary meaning in favor of the appellant. If there was any of this kind, the same tend to prove only that the appellant had been using the disputed word for a long period of time. Nevertheless, its (appellant) exclusive use of the word (Lyceum) was never established or proven as in fact the evidence tend to convey that the cross-claimant was already using the word ‘Lyceum’ seventeen (17) years prior to the date the appellant started using the same word in its corporate name. Furthermore, educational institutions of the Roman Catholic Church had been using the same or similar word like ‘Liceo de Manila,’ ‘Liceo de Baleno’ (in Baleno, Masbate), ‘Liceo de Masbate,’ ‘Liceo de Albay’ long before appellant started using the word ‘Lyceum’. The appellant also failed to prove that the word ‘Lyceum’ has become so identified with its educational institution that confusion will surely arise in the minds of the public if the same word were to be used by other educational institutions.

In other words, while the appellant may have proved that it had been using the word ‘Lyceum’ for a long period of time, this fact alone did not amount to mean that the said word had acquired secondary meaning in its favor because the appellant failed to prove that it had been using the same word all by itself to the exclusion of others. More so, there was no evidence presented to prove that confusion will surely arise if the same word were to be used by other educational institutions. Consequently, the allegations of the appellant in its first two assigned errors must necessarily fail.


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