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Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. 101897. March 5, 1993.

LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, ET. AL., respondents.

Petitioner is an educational institution duly registered with the Securities and Exchange
Commission ("SEC"). When it first registered with the SEC on 21 September 1950, it used the
corporate name Lyceum of the Philippines, Inc. and has used that name ever since.
On 24 February 1984, petitioner instituted proceedings before the SEC to compel the private
respondents, which are also educational institutions, to delete the word "Lyceum" from their
corporate names and permanently to enjoin them from using "Lyceum" as part of their
respective names.
Petitioner had sometime before commenced in the SEC a proceeding (SEC-Case No. 1241)
against the Lyceum of Baguio, Inc. to require it to change its corporate name and to adopt
another name not "similar [to] or identical" with that of petitioner. In an Order dated 20 April
1977, Associate Commissioner Julio Sulit held that the corporate name of petitioner and that
of the Lyceum of Baguio, Inc. were substantially identical because of the presence of a
"dominant" word, i.e., "Lyceum," the name of the geographical location of the campus being
the only word which distinguished one from the other corporate name. The SEC also noted
that petitioner had registered as a corporation ahead of the Lyceum of Baguio, Inc. in point
of time, 1 and ordered the latter to change its name to another name "not similar or
identical [with]" the names of previously registered entities.
The Lyceum of Baguio, Inc. assailed the Order of the SEC before the Supreme Court in a case
docketed as G.R. No. L-46595. In a Minute Resolution dated 14 September 1977, the Court
denied the Petition for Review for lack of merit. Entry of judgment in that case was made on
21 October 1977.
With the Resolution of the Court in G.R. No. L-46595, petitioner then wrote all the
educational institutions it could find using the word "Lyceum" as part of their corporate
name, and advised them to discontinue such use of "Lyceum." When, with the passage of
time, it became clear that this recourse had failed, petitioner instituted before the SEC SECCase No. 2579 to enforce what petitioner claims as its proprietary right to the word
"Lyceum." The SEC hearing officer rendered a decision sustaining petitioner's claim to an
exclusive right to use the word "Lyceum." The hearing officer relied upon the SEC ruling in
the Lyceum of Baguio, Inc. case (SEC-Case No. 1241) and held that the word "Lyceum" was
capable of appropriation and that petitioner had acquired an enforceable exclusive right to
the use of that word.
On appeal, however, by private respondents to the SEC En Banc, the decision of the hearing
officer was reversed and set aside. The SEC En Banc did not consider the word "Lyceum" to
have become so identified with petitioner as to render use thereof by other institutions as
productive of confusion about the identity of the schools concerned in the mind of the

general public. Unlike its hearing officer, the SEC En Banc held that the attaching of
geographical names to the word "Lyceum" served sufficiently to distinguish the schools from
one another, especially in view of the fact that the campuses of petitioner and those of the
private respondents were physically quite remote from each other.
Petitioner then went on appeal to the Court of Appeals. In its Decision dated 28 June 1991,
however, the Court of Appeals affirmed the questioned Orders of the SEC En Banc. 4
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration.

1. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the word Lyceum has not acquired a secondary
meaning in favor of petitioner.

"SECTION 18. Corporate name. No corporate name may be allowed by the Securities and
Exchange Commission if the proposed name is identical or deceptively or confusingly similar
to that of any existing corporation or to any other name already protected by law or is
patently deceptive, confusing or contrary to existing laws. When a change in the corporate
name is approved, the Commission shall issue an amended certificate of incorporation under
the amended name." (Emphasis supplied)
The policy underlying the prohibition in Section 18 against the registration of a corporate
name which is "identical or deceptively or confusingly similar" to that of any existing
corporation or which is "patently deceptive" or "patently confusing" or "contrary to existing
laws," is the avoidance of fraud upon the public which would have occasion to deal with the
entity concerned, the evasion of legal obligations and duties, and the reduction of difficulties
of administration and supervision over corporations.
Under the doctrine of secondary meaning, a word or phrase originally incapable of exclusive
appropriation with reference to an article in the market, because geographical or otherwise
descriptive might nevertheless have been used so long and so exclusively by one producer
with reference to this article that, in that trade and to that group of the purchasing public,
the word or phrase has come to mean that the article was his produce (Ana Ang vs. Toribio
Teodoro, 74 Phil. 56). This circumstance has been referred to as the distinctiveness into
which the name or phrase has evolved through the substantial and exclusive use of the
same for a considerable period of time. Consequently, the same doctrine or principle cannot
be made to apply where the evidence did not prove that the business (of the plaintiff) has
continued for so long a time that it has become of consequence and acquired a good will of
considerable value such that its articles and produce have acquired a well-known reputation,
and confusion will result by the use of the disputed name (by the defendant) .
We conclude and so hold that petitioner institution is not entitled to a legally enforceable
exclusive right to use the word "Lyceum" in its corporate name and that other institutions
may use "Lyceum" as part of their corporate names. To determine whether a given corporate
name is "identical" or "confusingly or deceptively similar" with another entity's corporate
name, it is not enough to ascertain the presence of "Lyceum" or "Liceo" in both names. One
must evaluate corporate names in their entirety and when the name of petitioner is
juxtaposed with the names of private respondents, they are not reasonably regarded as
"identical" or "confusingly or deceptively similar" with each other.

The decision of the Court of Appeals is affirmed and the petition for review is
DENIED for lack of merit.