In yet another twist in the exchange of court cases between ABS-CBN and its former talent, Willie Revillame, the network filed a P127 Million copyright infringement case versus Revillame, his production outfit (WilProductions, Inc.) and ABC 5 (now known as TV5) before the Regional Trial Court of Makati on November 24.
In a 33-page complaint, ABS-CBN claimed that Revillame and his co-defendants unlawfully infringed on ABS-CBN’s copyright over its show, Wowowee, citing section 172.2(l) of the Intellectual Property Code (IP Code). ABS-CBN stated that as the producer of Wowowee, it is the legal owner of a valid and subsisting copyright over each and every one of the Wowowee episodes and is thus entitled to protection against those who steal its work.
ABS-CBN alleged that Revillame's new show Willing Willie on TV5 is so closely similar to Wowowee leaving no doubt that Revillame and the other defendants deliberately and intentionally imitated Wowowee to steal the goodwill that Wowowee has built over the past 5 years of airing in ABS-CBN.
ABS-CBN claimed that despite the new show and segment titles, Willing Willie is undeniably a copycat of Wowowee. Among the acts of plagiarism listed in the complaint are: (1) Willing Willie’s opening song and/or dance number led by its host; (2) Wowowee’s “BIGA-TEN” versus Willing Willie’s “Big Time Ka”; (3) Wowowee’s “Willie of Fortune” versus Willing Willie’s “Willtime Bigtime,” which contain portions where the contestants tell their personal stories and showcase their talents before they play a singing and/or trivia game; (4) the dancers/characters of Wowowee are also appearing in Willing Willie, most notable of whom is April “Congratulations” Gustilo; and (5) the set design, stage, studio viewers’ seats lay-out, lighting and camera angles of Willing Willie are also strikingly similar to Wowowee.
ABS-CBN alleged that ABC’s act of broadcasting of the infringing work Willing Willie has caused and continues to cause irreparable damage to ABS-CBN. WilProductions, Inc. meanwhile produces the show and is also liable, according to ABS-CBN. Also included as defendant is ABC President Ray Espinosa.
Aside from seeking an award of damages in the amount of more than P127 Million, ABS-CBN also seeks for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or a Writ of Injunction to restrain Revillame, ABC and their other co-defendants from further producing and airing the infringing show Willing-Willie.
ABS-CBN claimed that this is a serious act of plagiarism, and observed that the theft of intellectual property has recently come to the fore in this country.