The High Court has thrown out a case against Safaricom by two men who had sued the Telco claiming ownership of the okoa jahazi idea. The two claimed that Safaricom had infringed on their copyright when they launched the service in 2009.
In her ruling, Justice Mary Kasango said that the duo had failed to demonstrate how Safaricom had infringed on their copyright. According to the judge, the proposal presented to Safaricom by the two men, Christopher Omare and Micheal Otachi, was too general and not original.
“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 two simply stated that a user can be granted emergency airtime, which would then give the provider some revenue. However, the dynamics and details of how this was to be implemented were not stated.
“Apart from these general statements the proposals bears no other details of how that concept could be worked out,” she added.
The two men sued Safaricom, claiming that they owned a mobile phone program dubbed Emergency Credit Service (ECS) which could be used by the network subscribers to obtain emergency airtime of Sh50 or Sh100.
They claimed to have sent the proposal to Safaricom in 2006, together with an indemnity form. The giant Telco however, did not respond but three years later, the Okoa Jahazi Credit service was launched. According to the duo, the product by Safaricom was based on the proposal they had submitted.
Through their principal in-house counsel, Danie Ndaba, Safaricom said that by the time the two sent their proposal, the company already had knowledge of the idea, acquired from Vodafone operators such as Vodafone Spain.
Recently, Safaricom revamped its Okoa Jahazi service allowing subscribers to borrow more than once.