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The Brand War

Disclaimer – This article was written to provide details on the fight that we described yesterday in the article and after the editorial staff had received elements allowing a different look at the situation. Indeed, as in any story, there are always two versions that it is important to confront and compare with the evidence that both parties can provide you. Nothing is all white or all black. Our lawyers have still worked a lot to allow us to form an opinion, but in any case, only justice can resolve this dispute.

Times pass and little changes in beauty pageants. One name for several organizations… Nobody really knows who the owner is, if it’s not a scam… This only brings confusion

Yesterday, in our article, our journalist relayed a conflict between Maya Tavadze, owner of Little Miss & Mister Universe in Georgia and Cristhel Bulabon, head of Reina’s Filipinas Organization in the Philippines. Following this article, the latter contacted us to provide clarification on this conflict. So let’s try to see things a little more clearly by focusing on facts and only facts.

Let’s put this story into context. Maya loudly proclaimed that Cristhel was a crook, since the latter had registered her trademarks in the Philippines without her consent and that she was launching a competition under these trademarks with the sole aim of parasitizing her, of bringing confusion according to the Georgian . Indeed, Cristhel Bulabon was its former director for the Philippines.

 

Trademark registration

According to the lawyers and specialists we consulted, intellectual property is both a simple and complex matter. Trademark law is the same all over the world. “A trademark must be registered with a national intellectual property body to be able to be opposed against any infringer.“ Trademark legislation also establishes the “first come, first served” rule. The rights to the mark therefore belong to the first natural or legal person to have registered the mark concerned with the competent bodies.

But, if it were enough to drop it off in your country to have peace of mind, it would be simple and that is not the case. Registering a trademark only has value in the country where you register it, and not the whole world. To do this, you must request an extension either at the European level from EUIPO or at the global level from WIPO. And of course, these extensions have a significant cost.

To have peace of mind, the simplest thing is to do like Miss World Organization or Miss Universe Organization, who spend thousands of dollars to protect the name of their competition throughout the world and who systematically attack the slightest attempt to register a similar trademark. , similar or even homonym. This involves a team that is constantly monitoring, which has a very, very significant cost. I easily understand that not all organizations have the means to make this global filing.

After having covered your trademark, you still have to be vigilant, because it is up to you (or the professionals you pay) to ensure that you do not have a similar or fraudulent registration of your trademark and in the geographical area where you are registering. . No intellectual property organization monitors this. It’s up to you and you alone to put it in place.

In my opinion, this trademark registration system is archaic and causes many grotesque situations. Indeed, certain organizations in the world of pageants have registered similar trademarks in their country. For example, for the brand “Miss Teen International” you have no less than 3 organizations which issue a perfectly legal title in the country in which its organizations are located.

 

Alaina BARLOCH

Miss Teen International 2023

Pageant belonging to Mary Richardson (USA)

Barbara PARRAGA

Miss Teen International 2023

Pageant belonging to Glamanand (Inde)

Yulienke JACOBS

Miss Teen International 2023

Pageant belonging to Rodrigo Moreira (Ecuador)

 

In this case, who is the real owner of the brand “Little Miss & Mister Universe”? you ask me then! Well the legal answer is that they all are, but only in their country. Indeed, we currently have two owners of the brand “Little Miss & Mister Universe”. One in Georgia (and only in Georgia), the other in the Philippines (and only in Philippines). They both have the right to organize their pageant under this mark, but only in the countries where they registered their trademark. As the owner of this brand, Madame Bulabon has the right to prohibit anyone from using it only in the Philippines, even directors who license it from Maya Tavadze’s organization.

These brands being a financial windfall, not to say a real cash register, for the countries, no one wants a single intellectual property body, which in my humble opinion, would be the best thing to do to avoid each other. many migraines and grotesque situations like we have encountered for years in the world of pageantry.

So how to differentiate them? Well only by their owner, their country of origin, their logo or even their communication. You must be very careful when you register or, for us as a journalist, carefully report the brand with its owner, since legally, both parties can claim the brand.

 

In terms of ethics and precedence

As we have said, the intellectual property code is complex. If someone registers a trademark that you have been using for years without ever having registered it due to lack of means or legal knowledge, you can still take action. In fact, justice recognizes the anteriority of use. What is this ?

According to lawyers, this is the simplest part to argue. Before registering a trademark, you must verify that no similar or identical trademark exists. You must also not be aware that this brand already exists. Indeed, by using a brand identical or similar to that of a third party, you risk being prosecuted for counterfeiting. This criminal action can have serious consequences.

When you have been the national director in a country for a competition, you cannot ignore that this brand exists, even if it is not registered in your country, since you have used it. To this end, you sign a contract with the organization giving you the right to use the brand, its logo and to organize a competition according to the criteria set by the international organization to designate the country’s representative. But, this contract does not grant you any authorization to register this trademark in your country in your name. Which seems quite logical to me, since you benefit from the notoriety and image of this organization. In addition, there is a relationship of trust that is established between the parties which allows you to access confidential data.

In addition, very often, in the contracts that bind you to international competitions, a non-competition clause is included prohibiting you from registering the brand and/or competing in the pageantry during and after your departure from the organization.

In the absence of this clause, there is a moral duty in my opinion.

In the case that concerns us, Maya Tavadze tells me that she had a formal contract with Cristhel Bulabon. This contract proves that this businesswoman knew the brands and could not ignore the prior use of the brands by Maya Tavadze. This notion of anticipation is important since this angle allows them to be able to file a complaint for usurpation. When I question Ms. Bulabon about the reasons for this filing, she places herself on the ethical level, evoking the lack of transparency of Maya Tavadze’s competitions and even cheating.

This is for me to showcase what real pageant is going to be.. to give a real platform for all the girls and give them the real and fair pageant…. I am not about into money… yes they said pageantry is business that is no doubt about that but when people register they want a fair pageant…. And Maya never gave those candidates a fair pageant“.

So, this deposit would have been made with full knowledge of the facts, but in the purest legality, in order to demonstrate that the Georgian organization was not clean, far from it. During our discussion, I received numerous screenshots and testimonies telling me that during the last competition in Dubai, Maya Tavadze did not pay all the pageant providers so that in the middle of the final, the lights were extinguished. It was the parents who put their hands into their wallets to allow the pageant to be held until the end. The jury members assured us that the results did not take their vote into account, since they were announced before picking up their score sheet by Maya Tavadze herself. Soon, you will have all the evidence and testimonies in an investigation carried out by the Inside Pageant team

Cristhel Bulabon concluded our interview by telling me: “Over the years spent managing pageant girls, I lost a lot of money but that didn’t stop me from helping them…

It’s clear she knows the world of beauty pageants when you look at her resume. She was Mrs. Philippines International World 2021 then Mrs. Earth Philippines 2022. She finished 4th runner-up in Mrs Heritage International 2022. Her daughter is also a great competitor in pageantry. Moreover, in 2021, they had the chance to each win their crown in the same competition.

In our history, we should not compare Madame Bulabon to these scammers who plunder brands, logos with full knowledge of the facts in order to take advantage of the work of others to easily recover partners, candidates and above all money, the nerve of the war, very quickly. After talking with her for part of the evening, I think she is trying to open consciences. But, I’m not convinced that this is the right method.

I just want to conclude that no one will win in this story. On a legal level, we can say that Madame Bubalon does not commit any fault, but on an ethical level, even if her goal is laudable, it is questionable.

As we write this article, the two clans are sticking to their position through their respective lawyers. The war on social networks is raging, and I want to say that only justice can decide this story and that the justice of social networks will never replace that of the courts.

But this post war only creates trouble in the pageantry ‘s environment and accentuates the confusion that already exists. This is therefore seriously detrimental to both organizations both in terms of their image (who wants to enter a competition where intimidation and threats flourish every day on the networks?) and in terms of the partners who prefer to take their legs their necks than betting on the wrong horse.

I can’t wait for justice to decide so that peace can return.

To be continued…

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