Court Decides; Safaricom Did Not Steal the Okoa Jahazi Idea

Court Decides; Safaricom Did Not Steal the Okoa Jahazi Idea

This past week Justice Mary Kasango delivered a Copyright Infringement decision on a case regarding Safaricom’s Okoa Jahazi product.

The case is Christopher N. Omare and Michael Otachi t/a Omare and Partners v Safaricom Limited [2020] available on Kenya Law Reports online. The Okoa Jahazi case validates my ‘Safaricom Stole my Idea’ and Ideas cannot be stolen illustration.. literally. The judgment could have been ‘heavier’ for our dissertations but it’s good precedent Civil Suit 552 of 2009 – Kenya Law: https://t.co/ypEXN6ULYB — Miss Okal (@JuneOkal) May 14, 2020 This isn’t the first case that’s been brought against Safaricom on the product. The product has also not been free of hitches like when people accrued huge Okoa Jahazi debt and balances which ran into multiple of thousands .

The plaintiff’s case was that they had title to ownership of a mobile telephone programme which would enable a subscriber to the mobile network to obtain emergency airtime credit in Kenya Shillings. They called this Emergency Credit Service (ECS). The purpose of ECS was to provide emergency credit airtime to subscribers who might have been: Travelling and run out of air time;

Be in an area where airtime cannot be obtained;

Require to make an emergency call at night; and

Those who might not wish to buy in available outlets credit for as little as Ksh 50/- of Ksh 100/=

The Okoa Jahazi service allows Safaricom customers to request an advance of mobile airtime in the amount of Ksh 10/-, 20/-,50/-, 100/-, 250/-, 500/-, and 1,000/-. The case dwells on a claim raised by two innovators that Safaricom stole their idea.

Copyright covers expressions of the mind’s ideas. In Kenya, software is protected under copyright. Ideas under the law are not worth much, unfortunately. Only until an idea is expressed in one form or the other does it become of value.

The claim of ‘Safaricom Stole My Idea’ has been a long-standing running theme in tech circles and the startup scene for a long time. It is important for techies and creatives to realize that legally ideas are not enforceable.

We all have ideas and like Eric Ries says , more likely than not (for Company led tech products especially) there are in house product teams working on new product improvement concepts and building those solutions that come in as proposals.

For Safaricom for instance, there have been allegations of in-person pitch meetings or the Zindua Cafe proposal […]

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