Intellectual Property Theft: MTN Drags to court

n a suit No. FHC/L/CS/18/2018, Mr. Femi Edwards of Comedy+ fame through his lawyer Chuks Nwachuku (Indemnity Partners) has accused the Telecommunication giant MTN Nig. Ltd of stealing his Comedy+ entertainment brand. Mr. Femi Edwards launched his Comedy+ brand in 2009 with a print magazine called ‘Comedy+’, he thereafter progressed to producing comedy shows in different parts of the country. He also organized Miss Agboyi Ketu Beauty Pageant in 2013 and 2015 in collaboration with Agboyi Ketu LCDA.

Not done with all these, Femi Edwards took Comedy+ online (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), more importantly he established a website which featured among others Comedy skits that visitors to the site could download. Femi Edwards claims that he made Comedy+ a brand among comedians and lovers of Comedy in Nigeria and in that way contributed his bits to building the art of comedy into an industry in the country. In the years 2015 and 2016 MTN sponsored or as MTN alleges ‘supported’ a comedy show ‘LaffXpress with Mc Ayanfe’ Seasons 1 & 2 respectively, which was produced by Femi Edwards under the ‘Comedy+’ brand.

Curiously, the same MTN launched an internet comedy platform which is called ‘Comedy+’ in March 2017. They were promptly written by lawyers to Femi Edwards warning of the infringement of his intellectual property, but MTN remained adamant hoping to bluff its way through. In the suit, Femi Edwards claims that MTN has made money in the excess of #112.5bn from the unlawful use of the ‘Comedy+’ brand; he is therefore asking the court to order MTN to account to him for that money.

In the suit, Femi Edwards accuses MTN of passing off their services as his own services through the adoption of the brand name ‘Comedy+’ with which he and his services have been associated with since 2009. The telecommunication giant filed a defense to the suit where it alleges that its services are different from those of Femi Edwards. It however admits to making comedy skits and materials available to millions of its subscribers through the use of the brand name ‘Comedy+’. But is that not what is meant as stealing another man’s idea? The case is set for hearing come Wednesday 9th May, 2018 before Professor Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.

AADMINOJUTOLE is a complete entertainment blog owned by Taofik Afolabi, Lagos based journalist and a publict