Universal Food Corporation vs Court of Appeals
GR No. L-29155 May 13, 1970
Facts: That as far back as 1938, plaintiff Magdalo V. Francisco, Sr. discovered or invented a formula for the manufacture of a food seasoning (sauce) derived from banana fruits popularly known as MAFRAN sauce; that the manufacture of this product was used in commercial scale in 1942, and in the same year plaintiff registered his trademark in his name as owner and inventor with the Bureau of Patents; that due to lack of sufficient capital to finance the expansion of the business, in 1960, said plaintiff secured the financial assistance of Tirso T. Reyes who, after a series of negotiations, formed with others defendant Universal Food Corporation eventually leading to the execution on May 11, 1960 of the aforequoted “Bill of Assignment.” On February 14, 1961 Magdalo V. Francisco, Sr. and Victoriano V. Francisco filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila, against, the Universal Food Corporation, an action for rescission of a contract entitled “Bill of Assignment.” The plaintiffs prayed the court to adjudge the defendant as without any right to the use of the Mafran trademark and formula, and order the latter to restore to them the said right of user; to order the defendant to pay Magdalo V. Francisco, Sr. his unpaid salary from December 1, 1960, as well as damages in the sum of P40,000, and to pay the costs of suit. 1 On February 28, the defendant filed its answer containing admissions and denials. Paragraph 3 thereof “admits the allegations contained in paragraph 3 of plaintiffs’ complaint.” The answer further alleged that the defendant had complied with all the terms and conditions of the Bill of Assignment and, consequently, the plaintiffs are not entitled to rescission thereof; that the plaintiff Magdalo V. Francisco, Sr. was not dismissed from the service as permanent chief chemist of the corporation as he is still its chief chemist; and, by way of special defenses, that the aforesaid plaintiff is estopped from questioning 1) the contents and due execution of the Bill of Assignment, 2) the corporate acts of the petitioner, particularly the resolution adopted by its board of directors at the special meeting held on October 14, 1960, to suspend operations to avoid further losses due to increase in the prices of raw materials, since the same plaintiff was present when that resolution was adopted and even took part in the consideration thereof, 3) the actuations of its president and general manager in enforcing and implementing the said resolution, 4) the fact that the same plaintiff was negligent in the performance of his duties as chief chemist of the corporation, and 5) the further fact that the said plaintiff was delinquent in the payment of his subscribed shares of stock with the corporation. The defendant corporation prayed for the dismissal of the complaint, and asked for P750 as attorney’s fees and P5,000 in exemplary or corrective damages.
Issue: Whether or not the admissions made in the answer binds the defendant.
Held: Yes. It is alleged in paragraph 3 of the respondents’ complaint that what was ceded and transferred by virtue of the Bill of Assignment is the “use of the formula” (and not the formula itself). This incontrovertible fact is admitted without equivocation in paragraph 3 of the petitioner’s answer. Hence, it does “not require proof and cannot be contradicted.” The last part of paragraph 3 of the complaint and paragraph 3 of the answer are reproduced below for ready reference:
3. — … and due to these privileges, the plaintiff in return assigned to said corporation his interest and rights over the said trademark and formula so that the defendant corporation could use the formula in the preparation and manufacture of the mafran sauce, and the trade name for the marketing of said project, as appearing in said contract ….
3. — Defendant admits the allegations contained in paragraph 3 of plaintiff’s complaint.
The facts narrated were the prevailing milieu on February 14, 1961 when the complaint for rescission of the Bill of Assignment was filed. They clearly prove that the petitioner, acting through its corporate officers, schemed and maneuvered to ease out, separate and dismiss the said respondent from the service as permanent chief chemist, in flagrant violation of paragraph 5-(a) and (b) of the Bill of Assignment. The fact that a month after the institution of the action for rescission, the petitioner corporation, thru its president and general manager, requested the respondent patentee to report for duty, is of no consequence. As the Court of Appeals correctly observed, such request was a “recall to placate said plaintiff.”