A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has held that the Intellectual Property Right of African music icon and actress, Onyeka Onwenu MFR was breached by British-Nigerian Jason Njoku’s IROKING.
In a judgment delivered recently by Honourable Justice CJ Aneke the court upheld the Plaintiffs’, (Lady Onwuenu and Ayollo Productions Limited) contention that the Defendant sold and distributed the 1st Plaintiff’s songs without her consent and consequently awarded the sum of N500,000 damages against the Defendant.
It would be recalled that the Plaintiffs had instituted the suit with No. FHC/CS/1486/2017 at the Federal High Court after seeking damages in the sum of N205m against the Defendant.
In a statement issued by the Music Icon, the wining the case is a victory for every intellectual property owner. She however lamented that the damages awarded by the court was not commensurate with the loss occasioned by the infringement.
The Plaintiffs’ statement on the judgment reads:
Onyeka Onwuenu Vs. IROKING
In a matter before the Federal High Court of Lagos, Suit No: FHC/CS/1486/2017, Hon. Justice CJ Aneke of the Federal High Court Lagos on Thursday, the 16th day of January, 2020, gave judgment in favour of Lady Onyeka Onwuenu MFR.
The Plaintiffs, Onyeka Onwuenu and Ayollo Productions Limited instituted an action against the Defendant, Iroking Limited, for the continuous infringement of the Intellectual Property of the 1st Plaintiff by the sale and distribution of the 1st Plaintiff’s songs without her consent.
The Court held that the Intellectual Property Right of the Plaintiff was indeed breached by the Defendant between the period of 28th day of February, 2015 (after the Digital Rights Acquisition Agreement expired) and March 2016 when the Defendant claimed it puled down the works of the Plaintiffs from the Defendant’s specific digital platform (iTunes). This judgment is not just victory for Lady Onyeka Onwuenu but for all songwriters, Producers and all Intellectual Property owners in general
Although the amount of damages awarded to the Plaintiffs was only N500k, an indication that Nigerian judges still lack adequate understanding of intellectual property rights, this is a victory for the Music Industry which should prompt every copyright owner to look into who is selling your music without your permission. They would easily find that gross violation abound. Change is coming. There must be a better regulation of this “all comers” market