"I was determined that ABS-CBN would be number one. And to be number one , you have to get the number one people."
-EUGENIO L. LOPEZ, ABS-CBN Corporation Chairman Emeritus

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Willie Revillame’s camp files new motion to halt hearing on ABS-CBN’s copyright infringement case

Wed Dec 08 2010 04:13 PM
by: ABS-CBN Corp. Comm.

The camp of Willie Revillame has filed a new motion that might delay the court proceeding on the P127 million copyright infringement suit charged against them by ABS-CBN.

The counsels of defendants Revillame, Wil Productions, ABC 5 (also known as TV5), and ABC 5 President Ray Espinosa informed Branch 66 of the Makati Regional Trial Court yesterday (Dec 7) that they have filed a petition for certiorari or prohibition at the Court of Appeals, in the hope of preventing the trial court from continuing the hearing on ABS-CBN’s application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the TV5 program “Willing Willie.”

The defense lawyers cited the Makati RTC’s alleged grave abuse of discretion after presiding Judge Joselito Villarosa has repeatedly denied or deferred its rulings on the motions they submitted. They added that as "judicial courtesy," the Makati RTC should first wait for the decision of the Court of Appeals on the petition before moving forward with the TRO hearing.

Last week, the camp of Revillame submitted a variety of motions in order to bar ABS-CBN from presenting its evidence for its prayer for a TRO, including a motion to dismiss case, a ‘motion to inhibit’ against the presiding judge, a motion to defer the TRO hearing, and a motion to drop Espinosa as one of the defendants.

After hours of debate between both parties, Judge Villarosa, ruled last Thursday (Dec 2) to continue with the TRO hearing but vowed to decide first on the pending motions before deciding to grant or deny the TRO.

ABS-CBN has since presented witness ABS-CBN Business Unit Head for game shows Marilou Almaden, who used side by side audiovisual comparisons of “Willing Willie” and “Wowowee” to testify to the infringements committed by Revillame and company as stipulated in ABS-CBN’s complaint.

These include the opening song and/or dance number led by its host, the singing and/or trivia game wherein contestants share their personal stories and then showcase their talents before playing the game, and the set design, stage, studio viewers’ seats lay-out, lighting, music, and camera angles of “Willing Willie,” which are strikingly similar to “Wowowee.”  ABS-CBN argues that the expression and execution of all these elements in a manner so similar to that of Wowowee creates a similar 'look and feel' between the programs, and is the basis of the claim of copyright infringement.

Atty. Bienvenido Somera Jr, who is representing ABS-CBN, said this new motion is obviously another attempt to delay the hearing, which has now stretched to two weeks. Somera said the Court has already given both parties ample opportunity to debate on the merits of the motions filed, making the claim of “grave abuse” by the Court unfounded.

Meanwhile, in order to resolve all pending issues on trial court level, Judge Villarosa has decided to cancel the scheduled Thursday and Friday hearings on the ABS-CBN TRO. The honorable judge said this is to give him time to finally decide on the motions filed by the defense by next week, so they won't be raising the same issues over and over again during court proceedings.

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