6 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Telecel Faces Fresh Suit

TRUMBELT Computers Limited has filed fresh charges against Telecel Zimbabwe over its mobile quiz promotion, Win Big Promo, for copyright infringement on the promotion concept. The fresh legal suit stems from an earlier court application regarding disputed intellectual property rights to the concept behind Telecel Zimbabwe's mobile phone quiz promotion.

Trumbelt lawyers Tambudzai Gonese-Manjonjo and Associates have already served summons on Telecel seeking an order prohibiting the mobile phone operator from running the second phase of the mobile phone quiz promotion, now renamed Win Big Promo .

In a case which is already pending before the High Court, Trumbelt Computers filed for US$340 000 damages claiming alleged copyright infringement, interest tempore morae and that the Zimbabwe's second biggest telecommunications firm cover costs of the suit.

Trumbelt Computers, trading as Mobile Connexions, claims its partnership with Telecel Zimbabwe would have generated just over US$2,4 million and its share of the profits was going to amount to US$340 000, which is the compensation that the private firm is seeking at the High Court.

But Telecel Zimbabwe has dismissed the claims for compensation and allegations that it had hijacked the concept saying it was a generic concept used across the world and already in use at its sister companies in Africa.

"If you wish to oppose any of the plaintiffs claims you must enter appearance to defend by making an appropriate entry in the book kept in the office of the registrar of the High Court of Zimbabwe at Harare within seven days," said Trumbelt in its papers.

Trumbelt Computers declined to comment on the fresh charges, but only admitted filing the suit saying Win Big Promo was Mega Promo by another name and hence their court challenge to claim damages for copyright infringement.

The dispute follows a misunderstanding between the two parties after a failed business partnership.

The parties allegedly engaged in discussions for consultancy services with a view to introduce marketing services for Telecel Zimbabwe.

In the course of the discussions the plaintiff wrote a proposal outlining details of the concept for the consultancy work called Mega Promo outlining details of the concept for which the two would also enter into a business partnership.

Trumbelt Computers claimed Telecel assured them of a possible business partnership that would involve use of Telecel's network infrastructure and its subscribers while Trumbelt provided the basis of the operating concept and framework.

The defendent, without plaintiff's knowledge, assignment or permission, proceeded to copy and implement the report and its contents, thus infringing the plaintiff's copyright, Trumbelt Computers claims in papers filed at the High Court.

However, Telecel Zimbabwe denies adopting the concept nor the basic coding system on which the earlier and current promotions operated.

Further, it denies ever agreeing on a partnership, but that it had merely shown interest to consider the proposals.

Telecel earlier said it had indicated it was already working on a similar concept and wanted to see if there were any areas that were different to its initiative and if that was the case whether there was room for the parties to enter into a partnership.

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