The High Court has dismissed a claim by two men who had sued Safaricom claiming that the mobile telco infringed on their copyright with the launch of Okoa Jahazi in 2009.
Justice Mary Kasango dismissed the claim by Christopher Omare and Michael Otachi, saying the two failed to specify how the company infringed on their copyright. According to the judge, the proposal to Safaricom was too general and not original as claimed.
“The plaintiff’s proposal is so general that even if the defendant took that general idea they cannot be said to have infringed,” said Justice Kasango.
The judge said the proposal by the duo simply stated that mobile subscribers can be given emergency airtime, which would then give the mobile provider a return.
“Apart from these general statements the proposals bears no other details of how that concept could be worked out,” she said.
The two had claimed that they owned a mobile phone programme, which would enable a subscriber to the mobile network obtain emergency air time credit and those who might not wish to buy in available outlets credit for as little as Sh50 or Sh100. They called the concept, Emergency Credit Service (ECS).
They then forwarded their proposal to Safaricom in November 2006 together with an indemnity form.
However, they added, the giant telco did not respond but three years later, in March 2009, Safaricom launched Okoa Jahazi.
The two claimed that the product was based on the ideas contained in their proposal. They moved to court alleging that they have suffered damages and sought to be paid.
Safaricom through Daniel Ndaba, the principal in-house counsel, said before receiving the proposal by the duo, the company had in its possession and knowledge of the concept by learning about if from Vodafone operators, such as Vodafone Spain.
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