A PASAY City college has filed a P100-million copyright infringement suit against software giant Microsoft Corp. and its local subsidiary, accusing them of illegally distributing copyrighted material owned by the school.
In filing the case before a Makati City court, the lawyer for Southeastern College Inc., Estelito Mendoza, said Microsoft, which vigorously pursues parties infringing on its copyrights, had violated the intellectual property rights of a local company.
Southeastern College said Microsoft was guilty of making illegal copies of a 379-page manual that the school developed for using Microsoft Office, and then distributing these on CDs without its permission.
The copyright to Innovate: A Mentor’s Guide to ICT Foundation Competencies, is owned by Southeastern College.
In a statement issued to the press, Microsoft denied the school’s allegations and said it would defend itself against its “baseless claim.”
The local subsidiary said it had “worked hard” to resolve the school’s complaint and was disappointed by its decision to file a lawsuit. It also sought to insulate its parent company from the dispute.
“For all intents and purposes, this is a purely local matter, which does not involve Microsoft Corp.,” the company’s statement said.
Southeastern College said the manual in question was written by its school director, Conrad Mañalac, and developed in 1999 for the exclusive use of the school’s teachers and students.
In 2004, Microsoft Corp. launched “Partners in Learning,” a worldwide computer education program for students and teachers, and bought a printing license covering 10,000 copies of the manual for its participants’ use.
The manual, originally entitled The SEC Microsoft Office XP Manual, was printed in book form and renamed Innovate: A Mentor’s Guide to ICT Foundation Competencies.
In October 2006, Microsoft distributed CDs as part of its corporate giveaways during the second Innovative Teachers Leadership Awards in the Philippines and the 2006 Education Summit. The CD, bearing Microsoft’s name and copyright mark, contained a portable document format file of Innovate.
“By illegally copying and distributing Innovate in digital format, Microsoft has enabled easy access and reproduction to an effective learning tool that promotes Microsoft products,” the school said.
The school had never given Microsoft or any other person authority to reproduce and distribute the book on CDs, Mendoza said, adding the school agreed only to the 10,000 book copies.
“The making of the CDs, as well as its copying and distribution, grossly violates Southeastern College’s economic rights to its intellectual property,” Mendoza said.
At least 700 copies of the Innovate CDs were distributed during the two events.
But Microsoft said Southeastern College had been a partner in its education program for many years.
“As part of our partnership, we worked together to create a curriculum as well as to train public school teachers and enable them to use technology in improving the learning experience for our youth,” the Microsoft’s statement read.
“We have trained nearly 19,000 public school teachers and reached more than 1.7 million Filipino students. We worked with SEC over the years to provide this curriculum to these teachers free of charge, including 10,000 hard copies that we provided to public school teachers and that SEC does not dispute
“We are disappointed with and deny SEC’s claim that we have improperly distributed additional copies of the curriculum reproduced on CD and we will vigorously defend against this baseless claim.
“Innovation and IP are at the core of our business at Microsoft. We recognize that IP, when put in place, allows and promotes collaboration between innovative companies to meet the needs of their customers and also provides the legal foundation of economic growth across the world, in developing and developed markets alike.”
But Mendoza said Microsoft had reason to be happy.
“This case demonstrates that in the Philippines, we do not tolerate counterfeiting. We give protection to intellectual property,” he said. Michael Caber