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Times Multimedia Limited sues Afreximbank for N800m over alleged infringement of intellectual property

Afreximbank

A Lagos-based creative multimedia firm, Times Multimedia Limited (TML), has sued the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) over an alleged infringement of its intellectual property right.

In the suit marked FHL/CS/627/24 and filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, the plaintiff is seeking N800 million as damages for allegedly infringing on its intellectual property over an initiative known as Creative African Exchange (CAX).

Also joined as defendants in the suit are the Managing Director of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Orama and three other principal officers of the bank.

In the suit, the plaintiff (TML) said sometime in 2018, it assembled a team of creative industry experts at its own cost to design a framework for the promotion and expansion of the African cultural heritage.

At some point, Afreximbank showed interest in the project and approached the plaintiff to sponsor the project.

This culminated in the birth of the Creative Africa Exchange (CAX) “as a holistic programme that will consolidate the Africa creative and cultural industry aligning identified resources in the sector to create a proper economic ecosystem”.

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According to the plaintiff, as part of the terms of engagement, it was saddled with the responsibility of delivering the creative industry aspect of the Inter-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) in 2018 via letters of intent and appointment dated 3rd and 17th May, 2018 respectively.

Responding in a letter dated the same 17th of May, 2018, the plaintiff stated its understanding of its role which included the conceptualisation of the entire creative industry in the IATF of 2018 through CAX while it retained the intellectual property right since the defendants are bankers.

It was based on this understanding that both parties partnered on the CAX project as a key component of the IATF 2018.

In 2019, the plaintiff went on to obtain the trademark for CAX and retained the copyright.

However, in 2022, the plaintiff discovered that the bank was planning to pass off its intellectual property by purporting to hold what it called “Creative Africa Nexus” which was scheduled to hold between 25th and 27th November, 2022.

Upon becoming aware of this development, the plaintiff wrote to bank, to warn against such a move, which it said was resorted to when the bank could not meet up with its terms for purchasing the intellectual property right of CAX.

The plaintiff submitted that, if not restrained by the court, the bank will continue to infringe on its intellectual property.

It therefore prayed the court for the following reliefs:

“A declaration that by virtue of the registration of the trademark of CAX (Creative Africa Exchange)” with the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment on the 22nd of June, 2019, coupled with the conceptualisation of the framework for the promotion and expansion of the African cultural heritage by the plaintiff, the plaintiff to all intent and purposes is the original owner of the intellectual property of the said Creative Africa Exchange.

“A declaration that the defendant’s use of the concept of CANEX (Creative Africa Nexus) which is largely the same in name, concept, in mode of activities, mode of operation, similar in objectives, and in form and in substance with that of the Plaintiff’s Creative Africa Exchange (CAX), which is a complete conceptualisation of the plaintiff’s brainchild, is an infringement on the plaintiff’s intellectual property.

“A declaration that the defendant’s use of the concept of CANEX (Creative Africa Nexus) which is largely the same in name, concept, in mode of activities, mode of operation, similar in objectives, and in form and in substance with that of the Plaintiff’s Creative Africa Exchange (CAX), which is a complete conceptualisation of the plaintiff’s brainchild, amounts to passing off which is an infringement on the plaintiff’s intellectual property.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, whether by themselves, agents, privies, assigns or any other persons acting on their behalf, from further infringing on the plaintiff’s intellectual property under the guise of CANEX without first seeking and obtaining the consent of the plaintiff.

“The sum of N800,000,000.00 (Eight Hundred Million Naira) as general damages”.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.

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