Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bert del Rosario wins Karaoke case

When Marvy del Rosario Schumann got word that the Supreme Court of the Philippine Republic had declared her father Roberto del Rosario as the sole owner of the original patent rights for a sing along system now popularly known in the Japanese language as Karaoke, tears of joy welled in her eyes, and looking skyward she smiled and said a silent prayer of thanks that her father though no longer here with her, had finally won his case against the Japanese company who claimed that the device was their invention.

Marvy and her other siblings were entrusted by their talented inventor father Roberto del Rosario when he noticed his health becoming worse, to pursue the case and “not to give up” despite the tremendous amount of stress not to mention tons of money spent in (and out) the Philippine courts to fight for their father’s case which had taken several decades.

The Supreme Court’s resolution dated March 19 2007 stated:

Plaintiff Roberto Del Rosario owns the patent rights for a sing-along system, popularly known as the KARAOKE. On January 18, 1993 plaintiff filed a case with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, for patent infringement against defendant Janito Corporation who, without his consent, was manufacturing and selling a sing along system marketed as “Miyata” which was substantially similar and identical to his (Del Rosario’s) patented invention.

After trial, the RTC in its Decision dated November 9, 1999 ruled in favor of plaintiff relying upon his uncontroveted evidence that defendant, without his consent manufactured and sold the Miyata system which was substantially identical to his patented invention.”

This triumph by a Filipino inventor who holds patents in other inventions as well, is not only a personal victory for the del Rosario family, stated his other daughter Isa Valenton but a feat worth acclaiming for the Filipino people.

Bert was born in Pasay City, the son of Teofilo del Rosario and Consolacion Legaspi. He married Eloisa Vistan, a former beauty queen with whom he has five children- three girls and two boys. Bert has been a widower since 1979 when his wife died at age 45 of heart failure. Bert did not remarry.

He admits that he never took up formal music lessons and cannot read music. Bert has also won awards in the Philippines and abroad, but the one he cherishes the most was the 1985 Gold Medal Award by the WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION (WIPO) of the United Nations. An award that recognizes him as a Filipino inventor.

Like most inventors, Bert admires other inventors like Thomas Alva Edison, who believes that invention is “one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration” and the Wright Brothers for their having invented the airplane.

Bert del Rosario an accomplished musician who could play seven other musical instruments very well besides the piano, during his leisure hours, enjoyed playing with the popular orchestra known as The Executive’s Band organized by Former Senator Raul Manglapuz and made up of businessmen and members of the diplomatic corps who get together to play just for “fun”.

During the sixties and seventies, the band was often invited to perform for charity and in big social events. All the “sidemen” were executives with a sprinkling of some American or British diplomat who enjoyed playing Jazz music as a hobby. Among the musicians were Senator Raul Manglapus who was the recognized bandleader and founder, who alternated on the piano with Bert del Rosario, J. Morato, (Trumpet), Freddie Kaufman (drums), Lito Molina (Clarinet and alto saxophone) Bobby Manosa, (singer) and architect; Lennie Hontiveros, (saxophone) a senior advertising executive and for a time former Philippine Republic’s First Lady Mrs. Ming Ramos joined in as a pianist in the group’s “jam sessions”.

The band flourished in the sixties and seventies. They even played abroad upon

the invitation of foreign dignitaries like the King of Thailand, President Bill
Clinton, and Pope Paul II.
In 1962, on his own, Bert set up the first of many piano factories that populated the Philippines. He

called his pianos “TREBEL" – a combination of Bert’s name spelled backwards [TRE] and Eloisa his wife- EL.

Back to his minus one system, it took several decades for Bert to finally win the case. In the later models, another cassette tape player/recorder was added. It could record on one magnetic tape both the musical accompaniment and voice of the person singing. This unit was created in 1977. To enhance the quality of sound the device had a knob to produce "reverb" [or echo-like sound] adding technical artistry to the resulting sound.
Bert saw the first sign of corporate leakage – and the specter of “industrial piracy” during the time that he had to contract a Japanese manufacturing firm to produce most of his replacement parts. Not long after this arrangement he and his friends began to see very similar units of his invention but with a Japanese logo being sold openly in major Asian citieis and even in Manila stores..

This, Bert said philosophically, was the price one has to pay for a successful product. People would like to steal the idea or just make copies and sell them under another name.

After some sleuthing, Bert traced the bulk of the “piracy” to a Japanese firm. Since Japan could easily produce units in greater quantities Bert was aware that he really had limited resources and less money to battle this underhanded practice by a bigtimg Japanese firm.

He was no match money-wise against the moneyed Japanese. But it did not discourage Bert from filing copywriter infringement, pursuing it to several decades for he felt in his heart he would be given justice.

In one of the media interviews Bert shared his philosophy in life: “Be
observant, be creative. Most of all work hard at what you believe in.” At last, Bert really worked hard in what he believed in and he won the fight for justice.


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