House probes 'sukang pinakurat' trade war

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2010 05:09 PM | Updated as of Dec 15 2010 01:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Competition has apparently turned sour literally between  a condiments giant and a startup competitor over “sukang pinakurat”, a special variety of spicy vinegar.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on small business and entrepreneurship development, said his committee will probe how one of the giants in the condiments industry has allegedly been allowed to strangle a small, Mindanao-based suka manufacturer.

Casiño said he has filed House Resolution 577 to investigate the violations committed by Southeast Asia Foods, Inc. (SAFI), makers of Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat Spiced Tuba Vinegar, of the tradename and trademark of Green Gold Gourmet Foods, Inc., original maker of the Suka Pinakurat brand.

SAFI is listed as the manufacturer and distributor of Datu Puti Lines, Mang Tomas, Golden Fiesta Cooking Oil, and Nelicom Lines, among others. It is said that SAFI is lording it over the condiments market.
In contrast, GGGFI is a small suka manufacturer based in Iligan City. Its main product is the Suka Pinakurat, which they registered with the Philippine Intellectual Property Office in 2006, Australia’s Intellectual Property Office in 2008 and the United States Patent Office in 2009.

In a statement and in a press conference with House media, Casino said“Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat” appears to violate Section 123 of the Intellectual Property Code (Republic Act 8293) which states that a mark "cannot be registered if it is identical or confusingly similar to an already registered mark. As such, it may be considered a trademark infringement, which is a form of unfair competition.”

"In effect, DTI and [Intellectual Property Office] has allowed SAFI to grossly push aside a successful small business brand by eating into its hard-earned niche in the local and even the international market,” he added.

Casino said the DTI should prohibit Datu Puti Pinoy Kurat from selling their version of Suka Pinakurat until the matter is resolved. "It is only right that we hear this to come up with new policies that will prevent big businesses from eating up the success of small corporations,” he said.