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INEC urged to pay for breach of contract

30 January 2014, 15:02 Henry Ifeanyi

Lagos - A Federal High Court has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to pay Bedding Holdings Limited (BHL) N17.3 billion for alleged breach of contract.

BHL had dragged INEC to court claiming that the commission breached its patent right over the process, application and the use of Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines for voter registration ahead of the 2010 general election.

It cited the INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, the Attorney General, Haier Electrical Appliances Corporation Limited, Zinox Technologies and Avante International Technology in the lawsuit.

BHL asserted in the suit that it was wrong for INEC to have awarded the contract of supplying the DDC machines to other companies without officially obtaining patent right from it.

The firm claimed that it was the only company with the patent right to produce Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballox Boxes (ECTBB) as well as the patentee in respect of Proof of Address System/Scheme (PASS) used for the collation and collection of key information of the country’s residents.

The firm further stated that it  ought to have received a patent right payment for the  DDC machine used for the poll.

The machines were supplied to INEC at the cost of N34.5billion by the three companies listed a co-defendants in suit.

Delivering judgment on the suit, Justice Ibrahim Auta upheld the position of BHL.

The judge declared that BHL was entitled to 50 per cent of the contract sum of N34,5 million being the “minimum reasonable royalty” accruable to the plaintiff for the unauthorized use of its invention.

He further ordered INEC and the other defendants to henceforth obtain the plaintiff’s consent before procuring and utilising the DDC machines for voters’ registration and related purposes.

Justice Auta further held that Nigeria’s Patent and Design Act precludes anybody from using a patented invention without the consent of the inventor.

He said that Section 6 of the Act provided for the protection of a patent right and that it was the duty of the court to ensure such protection.

– CAJ News


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