For the longest time, ‘Elars’ has been recognized as the original “lechon on a bamboo tray” until another lechon shop that goes by the name ‘Elarz’ came into the picture and started confusing people.
Founded in the 1970s, Elars has become a go-to place for lechon lovers in Metro Manila — particularly among those living around the City of Manila and Quezon City — for its “best tasting lechon.”
In 1989, Jose Lontoc and Leonor Rodriguez-Lontoc incorporated in their business the “Elar’s Lechon on a Bamboo Tray”
While longtime patrons of Elars lechon can’t be fooled about the OG Elars, newer customers tend to get confused between the authentic and the copying brand, Elarz.
This prompted a 20-year-long trademark infringment battle between the two lechon brands that reached the Supreme Court (SC).
Based on a decision issued in 2017, the SC had ruled in favor of the company behind Elars Lechon — Elarfoods, Inc. — over Emzee, Inc., the maker of Elarz Lechon.
“On October 2, 2001, respondent sent the petitioner a Cease and Desist Letter urging the latter to stop using the subject marks or any variations thereof. However, petitioner ignored the demand and continued selling its roasted pigs under the marks “ELARZLECHON,” “ELAR LECHON,” “PIG DEVICE,” and “ON A BAMBOO TRAY,” thereby causing confusion as to the source and origin of the products,” SC wrote in its desicion.
The SC added: “Thereafter, respondent filed three separate complaints11 for unfair competition and violation of intellectual property rights against petitioner for the latter’s use of the former’s trademarks “ELARS LECHON,” “ROASTED PIG DEVICE,” and “ON A BAMBOO TRAY.” Respondent claimed that petitioner unfairly rode on its fame, goodwill and reputation, causing its sales and profits to be diverted to petitioner.”
According to the Supreme Court First Division, an attempt to imitate Elars Lechon is evident in the part of Emzee Inc.
It added that not only do the two brands sound the same, but is also obvious that the only difference between the the letters ’s’ and ‘z’ at the end of each name.
The Supreme Court ordered Emzee to stop the use of “Elarz Lechon,” “Elar Lechon,” “pig device,” and “on a bamboo tray” in promoting its products.
“In fine, petitioner’s use of marks similar to those of the respondent’s constitutes a violation of the latter’s intellectual property rights. It is high time for petitioner to desist from conveniently latching on to the goodwill and reputation built by the respondent over the years,” the SC said in its decision.
The SC decision comes two years after a motion for reconsideration was denied at the Court of Appeals in 2015.