High Court Slams Kenya Copyright Board for Abuse of Criminal Process

high flyer series cover std 6 math

“It is obvious to me that where the issue of copyright is contested, the Police, the DPP and the Copyright Board cannot convert themselves into the High Court, settle that issue and declare that the 1st Petitioner has violated any part of the Copyright Act. Their actions are premature, malicious and unlawful and that is what is called abuse of Court process to settle personal scores and this Court cannot sit idly and watch them do so.” – Lenaola J., at para 48.

The above passage is taken from a recent High Court judgment delivered in the case of Peter Gichuki Mwangi & 2 others v Copyright Board of Kenya & 3 others [2014] eKLR. A copy of this judgment is available here. In this case, the copyright (and trade mark) subject matter in dispute was several popular school books published under the title “High Flyer Series”. As the story goes, Peter Gichuki Mwangi (1st Petitioner) and Anthony Kiai (4th Respondent) were once business partners and together they run the publishing house responsible for the books, High Flyer Publishers Ltd. Upon disagreements arising between the two partners, Kiai moved to court for determination of the issue of copyright ownership in the on-going case of HCCC No. 45 of 2011 and unsuccessfully sought injunctive orders from the court pending the hearing and determination of that case. In addition, the court declined to grant Kiai’s prayer for Anton Piller orders. In the instant case, Lenaola J. notes that it was only after failing to obtain the above orders and others, including specifically the Anton Piller orders to search the premises and seize evidence without warning, that Kiai enlisted the support of the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) in storming certain premises where Mwangi was publishing some of the books whose copyright remains contested. Another noteworthy point is that prior to these enforcement actions by KECOBO, the case HCCC 107 of 2013 had already been filed relating to the same disputed copyright works and it was pending determination.

Read the rest of this article here.

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