SC affirms dismissal of ABS-CBN’s P127-M copyright infringement case vs. Willie Revillame, ABC-5

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2019 12:04 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2019 12:05 PM

MANILA – The Supreme Court has affirmed the Court of Appeals' dismissal of the P127-million copyright infringement case filed by ABS-CBN Corporation against television network ABC Development Corporation (formerly TV5, now The 5 Network) and television host Willie Revillame for allegedly copying the defunct noontime show Wowowee.

In an October 16, 2019 resolution, the Supreme Court First Division denied ABS-CBN's appeal and confirmed the Court of Appeals' decision dismissing the case on the ground of forum shopping.

Forum shopping refers to an act of a litigant of filing multiple cases in different venues based on the same cause of action. It is prohibited by the courts and may be a ground for dismissal of a case.

In August 2010, Revillame filed a case before a Quezon City court seeking judicial confirmation of his rescission of contract as host of Wowowee. He also asked for P11 million in damages, accusing the network of breaching the provisions of his contract.

This was after ABS-CBN suspended and placed Revillame under probation for publicly asking the network to sack talent and showbiz scribe Jobert Sucaldito for allegedly attacking Wowowee guests on the latter’s radio program.

In response, ABS-CBN filed a P486-million counterclaim against Revillame for breach of contract.

The network also filed a P127-million copyright infringement case against Revillame, his production outfit (WilProductions, Inc.) and ABC5 before a Makati regional trial court, alleging that Willie’s show with ABC5 "Willing Willie" is a "copycat" of Wowowee.

The Court of Appeals however dismissed the copyright claim in September 2011.

SC RULING

In affirming the CA’s dismissal, the Supreme Court said ABS-CBN "failed to sufficiently show any reversible error on the part of the CA in declaring the petitioner guilty of forum shopping."

"[T]he petitioner resorted to forum shopping when it filed a complaint for infringement, the cause of action of which is similar to its compulsory counterclaim in Civil Case No. Q-10-67770 considering that both can be traced from Revillame’s refusal to honor his Talent Agreement," the high court said in its resolution.

The high court ordered ABS-CBN to pay the costs of the suit.