Pesalink, the money transfer service between Kenyan banks has run into another copyright infringement that is threatening to go to court.
On December 5th 2019, a former Cooperative Bank staffer went to court seeking Ksh1 billion from the over 30 banks that use Pesalink for stealing his idea.
Stephen Muikia Njongoro said Pesalink bears similar salient features and components to his original idea, which had expressed to the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), the entity which runs Pesalink, in early 2015.
He believes the association has been illegally using his idea for commercial benefit.
And as a result, he wants the court to stop the use of Pesalink, arguing KBA has infringed on his copyright and denied him royalties.
Pesalink which has over 3 million customers registered to use it has also run into another intellectual property right infringement.
The founder and managing director of Kibo Capital Group Limited Jasper Ochieng speaking to the editor of Kenyan Business Feed stated that his idea of digital receipt registered in January 2017 at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) has been stolen by Integrated Payment Service Limited (IPSL) which runs and manages the Pesalink platform.
Mr. Ochieng, shared the idea with IPSL Technology hoping that Pesalink will be using his e-Receipt idea but later found out that the company has taken up his idea and is using it without his consent.
‘I shared the proprietary software with IPSL (Pesalink) through CEO, Agnes Gathaiya, former Chief Information Officer Michael Mbuthia and the same was taken up by Technology Manager Judith Mwangoe after Mike exited the company sometimes into the project. This was done through a proof of concept that started in March through the year with presentations and demos done to large corporates’, said Mr. Ochieng
Cases of intellectual property thefts are rife in Kenya with corporates pegging the high legal costs as a way to ‘get-away-with-it’. They get away with it due to the prohibitive legal costs of suits.
Innovative youths are told to share their ideas only later to find out that the company has tweaked it to look like theirs.
‘The company may, for example, push for joint patent registration and offer a shares of the company stocks, but as the lengthy paper-work begins, it may alter a small detail in invention and claim it as its original own’, said one innovator
Though the Kenyan mainstream media fear tackling such intellectual property theft cases, there have been case where East Africa’s biggest Telco Safaricom Plc has been accused of ‘stealing’ ideas from several Kenyans.
Through its Zindua Café Program, where innovators are encouraged to submit their ideas to the Telco, Safaricom Plc has been accused of ‘lifting’ the MPESA Thibitisha idea (the system’s way of discouraging sending money to wrong recipient), the reverse call idea, and the MPESA 1-tap idea (where people purchase products by card or a wrist band.
Faulu Bank accused Safaricom of stealing their ‘M-shwari’ idea too in 2012.
Equity Bank was also accused of stealing the ‘wings to fly’ song from a Eric Obiero Nyadida. Eric sued the bank for Ksh10 million.
In the Pesalink scandals, the IPSL seems to be in wrong books twice.
Mr. Ochieng says that Kibo Capital Group Limited will seek legal redress, adding to the Ksh1 billion claim by coop bank former staffer.
As of September 2019, about Sh220 billion has been moved through Pesalink payment system.
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