Idea/Expression Murkiness: Court Ruling in Nation Media Copyright Suit over ‘LIT 360’ Simulcast Show

Lit360 Nation Media Group April 2018 31337776_588196948202537_5963395935391186944_o

Like clockwork, behind every mega corporate launch in Kenya is a law suit over allegedly ‘stolen’ intellectual property (IP). In a recent High Court ruling in Incognito Productions Limited & another v Nation Media Group [2018] eKLR, the learned judge appeared to sympathise with the Plaintiffs but not enough to grant their application for a temporary injunction against the Defendant, one of Kenya’s largest media conglomerates that recently rolled out a multi-million shilling project dubbed ‘Lit Music’.

The face of Lit Music (which is really just a record label) is ‘LIT 360’, a 1-hour programme made available simultaneously on Nation’s radio, television and digital platforms. LIT 360 was designed with the aim of talent scouting, soliciting and harvesting content, as well as distribution, marketing and promotion of musical talent. As readers may have undoubtedly figured out by now, the Plaintiffs’ claim is that Nation unlawfully appropriated their concept which underlies Lit Music and LIT 360 based on a series of confidential business proposals made to Nation by the Plaintiffs between July 2016 and March 2017.

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#ipkenya Weekly Dozen: 06/07

WIPO GII 2018 Dg3UBxgU8AAcHOu

  • The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2018 to be released next week [You’re Invited]
  • What the WTO decision on plain packaging means for developing countries [devex]
  • Time for a bioeconomy in Africa [ICIPE]
  • How fab labs help meet digital challenges in Africa [The Conversation]
  • Lionel Messi: Image Rights, International Financial Flows, Tax Havens and its Impact on Africa and Kenya [Academia]
  • Uganda’s Troubling Social Media Tax [HRW]
  • Kenya’s Digital Taxi Services Paralyzed, Strike Enters 4th Day [VOA]
  • Comment on South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill Until 18 July [PEN SA]
  • On the 36th Session of the WIPO – IGC: An Interview with Professor Chidi Oguamanam [Flora IP]
  • Ghana’s Copyright Administrator ordered to release funds to Audio-Visual Rights Society [GNA]
  • Intellectual Property Issues in Access and Benefit-sharing Agreements [WIPO]
  • Governance Issues of Nigerian Music Collecting Society, COSON Continues [Afro-IP]

For more news stories and developments, please check out #ipkenya on twitter and feel free to share any other intellectual property-related items that you may come across.

Have a great week-end!

Goodwill as Constitutionally Protected Property: High Court Case of Bia Tosha Distributors v Kenya Breweries, EABL, Diageo

warm-beer by gobackpackingdotcom Kenya tusker crate eabl

“I am acutely aware of the far reaching consequences of my conclusive finding that purely constitutional issues and questions have been borne out of a hitherto commercial relationship and hence the court’s jurisdiction rather than agreed mode of dispute resolution. I however do not for a moment view it that the framers of our Constitution intended the rights and obligations defined in our common law, in this regard, the right to freedom of contract, to be the only ones to continue to govern  interpersonal relationships.” – Onguto, J at paragraph 101 of the ruling.

A recent well-reasoned ruling by the High Court in the case of Bia Tosha Distributors Limited v Kenya Breweries Limited & 3 others [2016] eKLR  tackled the complex question of horizontal application of the Constitution to private commercial disputes governed by contracts with private dispute resolution mechanisms. More interestingly, the court had to consider whether the amount of Kshs. 33,930,000/= paid by the Petitioner to acquire a ‘goodwill’ over certain distribution routes or areas of the Respondents’ products can be defined as ‘property’ held by the Petitioner and as such protected under Article 40 of the Constitution.

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Employment, Non-Competition and Intellectual Property: High Court Case of AMC International v. ABMC International

ABMC 2ND EXECUTIVE HUMAN RESOURCES BOOSTERS SYMPOSIUM 2013 DISPUTE COPYRIGHT TRADEMARK KENYA AMC INTERNATIONAL NAIROBI

This blogger has come across a recent ruling in the case of Africa Management Communication International Limited v Joseph Mathenge Mugo & another [2016] eKLR. In this case, the court declined to find the defendants (which included 2 ex-employees of the plaintiff) in contempt of court orders made preventing them from passing off and carrying themselves as a sister or associate company of the plaintiff (a former employer of the defendants). In addition the plaintiff sought to have the ex-employees committed in prison for three months for violating orders restraining one of the ex-employees from being a director in the 2nd defendant company for a stipulated period of 18 months.

This blogpost examines this case which illustrates the importance of ensuring that employers take proactive steps to secure all their intellectual property (IP) assets against employees no longer in employment and that such former employees are reasonably restrained by contract from trading using the IP assets of the former employer.

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Kenya Copyright Board Suggests Guernsey Approach to Image Rights Protection

Kenya Copyright Board Publication Copyright News Issue 18 2015 Cover

The most recent edition of Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) newsletter (cover pictured above) focuses on photography and image rights. A copy of the full Issue 18 is available here.

In the lead article starting on page 4 by KECOBO Executive Director, a compelling case is made in favour of specific legal protection of image rights, particularly in the case of celebrities. The article uses the oft-cited case of Dennis Oliech v. EABL (previously discussed here) to illustrate the limitations of existing intellectual property (IP) regimes in cases of commercial appropriation of one’s personality and/or image.

The article reads in part as follows:

“The use of images and personality rights is gaining currency and there is need to ensure that the same is well regulated and third parties do not take undue advantage of the commercialisation of the same. Guernsey provides a good example and maybe we should follow suit.”

This view from the Copyright Office begs the question: will Kenya be better off with a specific law on image rights like Guernsey? This blogger argues that the answer must be “No”.

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Pay TV Disputes Copyright in Free-to-Air Broadcast: Appeal Case of Wananchi Group Uganda v. New Vision

Robert Kabushenga New Vision CEO Bukedde TV Zuku

This blogger has come across a recent ruling by Uganda’s Court of Appeal in the case of Wananchi Group (U) Ltd v. The New Vision Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd. The background of this case is as follows: New Vision had filed an application against Wananchi in the High Court for a temporary injunction seeking to restrain the Wananchi from further infringement of the New Vision’s copyright in the production, air transmission or broadcast of “Bukedde Television” through Wananchi’s Zuku Television.

In the High Court, New Vision contended that Wananchi continued to infringe on the New Vision’s copyright by retransmitting Bukedde TV for private benefit and for personal economic gain without the consent or licence of the owner despite express warning. The High Court agreed with New Vision and granted the order of a temporary injunction. This brings us to the present case of Wananchi’s application in Court of Appeal for an interim order of stay of execution of the order of the lower court.

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Blind Opposition to Caller Ringtone Deal between Safaricom and Collecting Societies: High Court Case of Irene Mutisya & Anor v. MCSK & Anor

Robert Collymore CEO Safaricom

This blogger has recently come across Nairobi High Court Civil Case No. 262 of 2015 Irene Mutisya & Anor v. Music Copyright Society of Kenya & Anor. In this case Mutisya and another copyright owner Masivo have filed suit against Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and mobile network operator Safaricom Limited for copyright infringement. The copyright owners filed an urgent application on 30th July 2015 for a temporary injunction to restrain Safaricom from remitting license fees to MCSK pursuant to a recently concluded license agreement for caller ring-back tones (CRBT) made available through Safaricom’s Skiza platform. The copyright owners also asked the court to restrain both Safaricom and MCSK from implementing the CRBT License Agreement pending the hearing of the application.

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