Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Safaricom sued over money transfer technology



Mobile communication provider and most profitable company in East Africa Safaricom has been sued by a Nairobi resident Mr. Christopher Ondieki over its money transfer service M-Pesa®. The dispute concerns M-Pesa’s upgraded technology which allows users to transfer money in US dollars and Kenya shillings and to also transfer money to and from banks accounts - a technology which Mr. Ondieki claims to have invented.

In the application filed in the High Court and certified as urgent by Lady Justice Joyce Khaminiwa, Mr Ondieki claims that he forwarded a proposal of the technology to Safaricom in April this year after which he was invited to demonstrate his invention in June. According to the suit, instead of finalising the deal with the plaintiff, Safaricom went ahead to implement the invention without his consent, apparently disregarding an agreement.

The plaintiff is seeking a permanent injunction stopping Safaricom from using the technology and an inquiry into damages suffered or alternatively an account of profits.

The plaintiff is required to serve Safaricom with the court papers for an interpartes hearing on Friday.

Source: Daily Nation Newspaper, Wednesday 17th December 2008.

Comments

The information available at this stage is sketchy to ascertain whether the plaintiff has patented the technology or he will pursue the matter purely based on breach of confidence. However, it should be interesting to observe how the case unfolds. It will be recalled that in 2005 in a copyright infringement case Alternative Media Services v Safaricom [2005] eKLR, Safaricom was restrained from infringing copyright in an artistic work belonging to Alternative Media Services.

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