Telecel wins copyright case

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A BID by a Harare man to sue Telecel Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd for copyright infringement after the mobile phone operator used a quiz promotion “Mega Promo” without his permission failed at the High Court.

Peterson Tengende and his company Trumbelt Computers (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Mobile Connexion, wanted Telecel to pay him 50 percent of profits realised from the promotion.

Justice Loyce Matanda-Moyo dismissed the suit after ruling the copyright law does not extend to ideas, procedures, methods of operation, or mathematical concept as in the present case.

“The plaintiff’s (Tengende) work is therefore not protectable under the copyright,” said Justice Matanda-Moyo.

The copyright row started when Tengende approached Telecel with a proposal for two different Mega promotions on January 11 2012. Telecel asked him to send them his proposal which the mobile service provider wanted to compare with the one it was working on with another partner.

After meetings with Telecel value added manager Mamutse Munyaradzi to discuss the modalities of the promotional prizes to be won, Tengende’s proposal was finally agreed on. He later sent a detailed proposal for the Telecel Mega Promo on November 24, 2012. Telecel later opted to work with another technical partner in rolling out the promotion.

It went on to coin a promo as enunciated in Tengende’s proposal prompting the suit.

Advocate Fadzayi Mhere, who acted for Telecel in the matter, argued that copyright did not subsist in ideas but in form.

She said the plaintiffs’ proposal was for a mere concept which was generic in nature and could not be protectable by copyright, which the court accepted.

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