AN ambulant vendor was convicted for selling sachets of counterfeit Coffee-Mate creamer in downtown Cebu City.
Emerita Pepito was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court Branch 11 of violating Republic Act 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
She was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a P50,000 fine. Pepito was also ordered to pay P633,094.51 in actual damages to Nestlé Philippines.
Pepito and her two companions Loterio Sanchez and Hernani Abucay were arrested by police in a buy-bust operation along F. Llamas Street in barangay Tisa, Cebu City on July 8, 2005.
They were accused of unfair competition for selling counterfeit Coffee-Mate, a product of Nestlé Philippines. Sanchez and Abucay were acquitted by the court for lack of evidence.
In his decision, RTC Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. said all vendors have the responsibility to make sure that the goods they sell are genuine.
The judge said the proliferation of fake goods in Cebu City is “alarming.”
Nestlé Philippines earlier complained that their products were counterfeited and sold in downtown Cebu City.
The Parian police precinct investigated the complaint and found out that several fake Nestlé Philippines products were sold in their area.
On July 8, 2005, the Parian police conducted a buy-bust operation that led to the arrest of the three accused.
During the operation, only Pepito brought and sold fake coffee products.
Eleanor Villarino, food technologist and head of Nestlé Philippines’ Regulatory Affairs Department, said the coffee creamer sold by Pepito is fake.
She said several changes were made in the design of the packaging of Coffee-Mate since it first came out in the market, but its major features remain the same.
Villarino said an ordinary buyer could hardly detect a fake product since they don’t have an idea about the physical description of the original coffee creamer.
She told the court that edges of the sachets of fake products are rough while the genuine items are straight.
Villarino said the color of fake products is “very pale” and has a number 4 marking which is not present in the original Coffee-Mate.
When she testified in court, Pepito denied selling fake coffee creamer.
The judge gave weight to the testimonies of the police officer who arrested Pepito as well as the Nestlé’s food technologist.