Firm sues CBN over copyright infringement

An information technology firm, Technocrat Consult and IT System Solution Limited, has dragged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) before a Federal High Court in Lagos claiming N8 billion damages over alleged copyright infringement.

Other defendants in the suit before Justice Saliu Saidu are Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and Enrst and Young Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Justice Saidu has dismissed a preliminary objection raised by the CBN against the suit.

The judge, in his ruling, held that justice of the suit would not be served if the objection was upheld, and that the irregularities in the suit should be amended and not served as basis to dismiss same.

The plaintiff (IT firm) had filed the suit against the defendants over alleged plans to infringe on its patent right.

The plaintiff, in an amended statement of claim filed through its lawyer, Norison Quikers (SAN),  averred that it specialises in information technology, designing and development of software and general information technology and consultancy business, and that it invented a device known as Portable Telecommunication  (Mobile Client), used in biometric, finger print and photograph based identification system for individuals.The plaintiff averred that both the CBN and Chartered Institute Of Bankers of Nigeria, through the Bankers’ Committee, issued a public request for expression of interest to participate in a biometric project with the request being co-ordinated by the third defendant  (Enrst and Young Nigeria), on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee.

The plaintiff, according to the processes, recalled that it participated and was shortlisted and given the full request for proposal document for the project.

The plaintiff averred further that while submitting the response to the request, it attached a letter informing the Bankers’ Committee that it owns a critical patent required for the successful completion of the project in Nigeria, and proposed to use its innovation as it perceived the likelihood of not being considered for the project execution.

The plaintiff further stated that it wrote to the Bankers’ Committee informing them that it had the patent covering the project and indicating its willingness to meet any technical qualification that would be required.

But to its surprise, the Bankers Committee through an e-mail dated November 30, 2012, informed the plaintiff  that the firm was no longer considered for the project. The plaintiff stated in the particular of the case that the defendants required the vendor to procure a machine which would be accessing the application through a web browser, that is, Internet explorer 6.0/8.0 mozilla fire fox, where the finger print devices were connected.

The plaintiff listed the machines to include desktops and /or for laptops which include plurality of client workstations, the same as its plurality workstations which all specifications are contained in its registered patent number NG/P/2010/283.

The plaintiff added that the defendants were aware that the project, if not executed by the plaintiff, would lead to a deliberate infringement on the invention comprised in its registered patent number NG/P/2010/283, but the Bankers’ Committee had concluded plans to award the over $100 million contract on January 7, 2013 to another vendor who, the plaintiff said was almost likely to make use of its invention for the successful completion of the project.

Consequently, the plaintiff sought a court order declaring its registered patent number RP: NG/P/2010/283 for portable telecommunication  (mobile clinic) Device used in biometric identification as valid and subsisting as its the original author, inventor, creator and designer of the portable telecommunication  (mobile clinic) Device used in biometric identification as comprised in its registered patent.

While claiming N8 billion damages, the plaintiff urged the court to restrain the defendants from committing the act of copyright infringement against the firm.

In a preliminary objection, the CBN urged the court dismiss the suit, as proper parties were not served.

The matter was thereafter adjourned till March 20, 2015, for hearing.

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