Safaricom wins Okoa Jahazi patent suit

Peter Ndegwa, CEO Safaricom Plc

Safaricom Plc has won a lawsuit over the use of Okoa Jahazi, an airtime loan service that two men, Christopher Omare and Michael Otachi had sued claiming infringement on their copyright.

Justice Mary Kasango dismissed the claim by the duo, saying the two failed to specify how the company infringed on their copyright. According to the judge, the proposal to Safaricom was too general and not original as claimed.

The giant telco through its had lawyer Daniel Ndaba argued that before receiving the proposal by the duo, the company had in its possession and knowledge of the concept by learning about if from Vodafone operators, such as Vodafone Spain.

Mr Omare and Otachi claimed to own a mobile they christened Emergency Credit Service (ECS) which would enable a subscriber to the mobile network obtain emergency air time credit and those who might not wish to buy in available outlets credit for as little as Sh50 or Sh100.

They forwarded the ECS idea to Safaricom in 2006. Their proposal was accompanied by an indemnity form.

Safaricom would roll out a similar product in the market three years later in March 2009 dubbed Okoa Jahazi.

The two claimed that the product was based on the ideas contained in their proposal. They moved to court alleging that they have suffered damages and sought to be paid.

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