Intellectual property theft: Media company writes PMAN, exonerates Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [Photo: Daily Trust]

The legal advisers to the media company partnering with the information minister, Lai Mohammed, on the ‘Creative Industry Financing Conference’ has described allegations by the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria, PMAN, that the conference was a copyright as false.

Few days after it was launched amidst nationwide fanfare, an allegation that the $1 million venture for the creative industry tagged ‘Creative Industry Financing Conference’ was a stolen concept emerged.

Specifically, Mr. Mohammed is facing allegations that he adapted the ‘Creative Industry Financing Conference’ from another public service campaign after its creators pitched the idea to him late last year.

PMAN accused the miinister of plagiarising its proposal that was presented to him under the name ‘Bar Coding Technology for the Creative Industry in Nigeria.’

The association, in a statement on its Facebook page, said the recently convened conference ‘heavily’ contained ideas from the proposal it had earlier submitted to the minister.

The counsel to PMAN, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, in a five-page petition written to the minister, dated July 20 asked the minister to “desist forthwith from proceeding further” the implementation of action plans or any item from the proposal pending when all issues arising from what it called manipulation of its original brainchild ideas and gross infringement on its intellectual property rights are resolved.

He warned that PMAN would not hesitate to take a legal action if at the expiration of 72 hours from the date of its receipt the ministry continues to engage in programmes, activities and events that are apparent implementation of its original ideas expressed in the proposal and action plan contained in the Bar Coding Technology for the Creative Industry in Nigeria.

However, in another twist, Solicitors to Messrs ThinkTank and Advertising Limited, one of the co-hosts of the conference, said the Creative Industry Financing Conference was solely conceptualised and fully developed by their client, and not by PMAN.

In a letter dated July 28, 2017 obtained by PREMIUM TIMES O. Adenaike, representing the firm of lawyers to the advertising agency, responded to the petition by PMAN’s counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor.

Adenaike described the threat by PMAN to sue the information minister as highly misplaced as the minister was only ‘party to the conference.’

“Our client approached and indeed secured the participation of the Ministry of Information and Culture to this conference, being the custodian and the ministry that regulates the creative industry in Nigeria.

“Please, note that your allegation against the person of the Minister, Mr Lai Mohammed with regard to the Creative Industry Financing Conference is spurious, highly misplaced and borders on a sinister plan to intentionally malign his person and put his good works into disrepute.

“Your client, with a malicious intent of disparaging the character of Mr Lai Mohammed, has given your letter the widest publication on the Internet as well as other electronic media. This raises question about the motive of your letter in the first place, it has also not displayed the candour expected of an organisation of its nature”, the letter read in part.

The letter noted that the conference principally aimed at identifying, addressing and proffering solutions to the financing needs of businesses in the Creative Industry as against “the revenue-generating adventure of your client’s proposed idea.”

”The claim that the Creative Nigeria Financing Conference is the brainchild of your client is unfounded and derisory at the least, as the conference did not only speak to the Nigerian music industry but also addressed the film and television practitioners with the aim of creating a viable relationship with the finance industry.

”This objective, you will agree, goes beyond the purview of your client, a not for profit labour union for musicians,” Mr. Adenaike said.

He said plans to progress with the conference will continue.

If PMAN decided to sue, Adenaike advised Mr. Ejiofor to address all litigation to Mr. Mohammed in person not as a minister.

“…Please note that our client reiterates its ownership of the right in the literal works conceptualised and expressed through the Creative Nigeria Financing Conference and it intends to continue exercising the right to its fullest benefit.

“Should your client wish to carry out its threat of instituting a legal proceeding with regard the alleged infringement of its right, we advise that you direct all hostilities to our client and not the person of the Minister and his Ministry. Our client is willing and ready to defend its right when called upon to do so.”

This is not the first time the office of the information minister had been embroiled in allegations of copyright infringement.

Mr. Mohammed had also been accused of adapting the ‘Change Begins with Me’ from another public service campaign after its creators reportedly pitched the idea to him.


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