In a recent development, the iconic trio of Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon, popularly known as TVJ, filed a legal action against Television and Production Exponents (TAPE) Inc., the producer of “Eat Bulaga ,” and media giant GMA Network. The complaint alleges copyright infringement and unfair competition, stemming from the unauthorized airing and replaying of “Eat Bulaga” episodes without TVJ’s consent.
TVJ filed its complaint against TAPE and GMA on June 30, following the instances when the production company and the network aired episodes of “Eat Bulaga” without the three’s consent. On July 12, TAPE and GMA were served a summons by the Marikina Court, ordering them to respond to the complaint within 30 days. This legal action was prompted by an incident on May 31, when TVJ and the other co-hosts of “Eat Bulaga” were denied the opportunity to go live on air on TAPE. However, previous episodes were aired, prompting TVJ and the co-hosts to resign most of the TAPE. Afterwards, they signed a deal with MediaQuest Holdings Inc. and aired their new noontime show, “EAT,” on TV5 starting July 1.
Atty. Maggie Garduque, legal counsel of TAPE Inc., opposed TVJ’s copyright infringement claim by saying that the complaint has no merit. He argued that copyright infringement cannot be established against TAPE Inc. because they are the registered trademark owners of the title “Eat Bulaga”. Garduque emphasized that the name, logo, and design of “Eat Bulaga” constitute a trademark rather than a copyrightable work. He further emphasized that TAPE Inc. has a registered trade name for “Eat Bulaga,” thereby invalidating TVJ’s infringement claim against the trademark owner.
Presented by TAPE Inc. the various documents to prove their claims of ownership of the title “Eat Bulaga”, contrary to TVJ’s statement that they invented the name of the show. Aside from the title “Eat Bulaga”, TAPE also recorded other popular segments of the noontime show, including ‘Juan for All, All for Juan,’ ‘Pinoy Henyo,’ and ‘Bawal Judgmental.’ These registered trademarks further complicate the legal battle between TVJ and TAPE, indicating that the dispute may be prolonged due to the influence exercised by both parties.
Former senator Tito Sotto expressed his opposition that TAPE has no right to commemorate the upcoming 44th anniversary of “Eat Bulaga” on July 29. This statement shows the deep disappointment and anger between TVJ and their former production company.