The recently reported High Court case of Evans Gikunda v. Patrick Quarcoo & Two Others  was born out of a business deal gone bad. At the heart of this dispute is a music application (app) that the plaintiff (Gikunda) claims to have conceptualised, designed and developed between 2012 and 2016. However Gikunda joined the employ of the 2nd Defendant (Radio Africa Group Limited) in 2013 where the 1st Defendant (Quarcoo), the Chief Executive at Radio Africa, ‘persuaded Gikunda to partner with him to ensure that the product gets to market’.
According to Gikunda, Quarcoo proposed that that once Radio Africa’s Board of Directors sanctioned its participation in his app, they would share out the ownership of the app as follows: Radio Africa – 40%; Gikunda- 30%; Quarcoo- 20%; and the remaining 10% to a strategic partner. However, in mid-2016, Gikunda resigned from Radio Africa after which he alleges that Quarcoo and Radio Africa sold the app, without his knowledge, to the 3rd Defendant (Safaricom).
“We wish to underscore the importance of fostering creativity through respect and protection of intellectual property rights of others. A nation cannot be built on disregard for originality and promotion of copy cats.” – Excerpt from a press statement by Transcend Media Group.
This blogger has come across the recent case of Transcend Media Group Limited v. Saracen Media Limited & 2 Ors Civil Case No. 3644 of 2016 in which Senior Magistrate E.K Usui has granted temporary injunctive orders sought by Transcend, the applicant against Saracen and the two other respondents. The court granted Anton Piller orders allowing Transcend to enter the premises of the respondents to preserve, seize, collect and keep machines, data, documents and storage material relating to Transcend’s copyright work under the supervision of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) officers. In addition, the respondents have been restrained by the court from any further infringement, alienation, distribution and storage of Transcend’s copyright work pending hearing of the suit.
According to a Business Daily report here, the genesis of this copyright dispute is a Sh208 million tender by Safaricom seeking to procure the services of an advertising agency to handle the mobile network operator’s youth segment brand communication which is now called BLAZE. Transcend submitted its strategy proposal and creative body of works to Safaricom but lost the bid to Saracen. Transcend alleges that Safaricom awarded the business to Saracen and a Company (Fieldstone Helms Limited) owned by former Transcend staff who were involved in Transcend’s bid including the team leader. As a result, Transcend claims that Fieldstone Helms is now “illegally implementing” Transcend’s intellectual property (IP).
This blogger came across the recent judgment of the High Court in the case of Adventis Limited v Superior Homes (K) Limited & another  eKLR. At the heart of this case is Greenpark, a gated housing development with over 600 units off Nairobi’s Mombasa Road near Athi River. In 2004, Adventis was appointed by Superior Homes as lead Architects for Architectural work and services for Greenpark. Later, UK architectural firm of Young & Gault was roped into the project following the disaffection by Superior Homes with the services which were being rendered by Adventis.
The court established that Young & Gault was brought in as a go-between to supervise the work that was being undertaken by Adventis so that Superior Homes would be sure that it was getting the right worth of its money. Later, Superior Homes refused to pay Adventis for services rendered and the latter sued. Among the claims made by Adventis was that Superior Homes infringed the copyright in the architectural drawings by Adventis by converting it’s drawings and holding them out and publishing them for commercial purposes.
In a recent ruling by the High Court in the case of Riara Group of Schools Limited v Lucas Kimani  eKLR, Ogola J found that Riara had failed to establish a prima facie case against an ex-employee who is alleged to have wilfully and knowingly infringed Riara’s copyright in a learning/revision computer program known as “Digital Genius”. At the heart of the case is the question whether or not a teacher formerly employed at Riara developed a computer program under his contract of service with Riara.
It is interesting to note that while the supporting evidence in Riara’s application clearly establishes an employment relationship which coincides with the period when the ex-employee claims to have developed the computer program, the court held that Riara has not provided any or enough evidence to support its assertion that the: “said computer program was developed using the Plaintiff [Riara]’s resources which included but are not limited to official working hours spent in designing and developing the software, equipment and machinery including computer hardware and electricity. Further, the utility of the said computer program was tested on the Plaintiff School’s pupils and was thereafter fully implemented and used as a teaching aid and revision material in the aforesaid Plaintiff’s School.”
A copy of the ruling is available here.