Samsung Enmeshed in N65m Copyright Infringement Lawsuit in Nigeria
Justice Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, has given his ruling on the copyright infringement suit against Samsung Electronics West Africa Limited (“Samsung”) and Ringier Media Nigeria Limited (“Ringier Media”) by Eagle Eye Production Limited (“Eagle Eye”).
The Abuja-based production company had filed a N65 million lawsuit against Samsung for allegedly using a part of its ‘Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge at Night’ video in a Galaxy S8 advert without authorization.
Samsung had, after receiving the lawsuit, claimed it had no knowledge of the creative process of the ad, as it outsourced the job to one Cheil Communications Nigeria Limited. Cheil Communications, in turn, claimed it outsourced the job to Ringier Media Nigeria Limited.
At the first hearing on the lawsuit on May 3, 2018, Ringier Media’s Counsel applied to strike out the suit, claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit because Eagle Eye in suing Ringier Media omitted the word ‘media’ in its name. Ringier Media also argued that the suit did not disclose a reasonable cause of action against it.
Eagle Eye Counsel, Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN) however, prayed the court to dismiss Ringier Media’s application with substantial cost on the basis that the omission of the word media from Ringier Media’s name is “a misnomer” and that the suit disclosed a reasonable cause of action against Ringier Media.
The learned Silk also pointed out that the omission of the word “media” was infact caused by Ringier Media and its counsel who in various correspondences exchanged prior to the suit represented to Eagle Eye’s counsel that the full name of Ringier Media is Ringier Nigeria Limited instead of Ringer Media Nigeria Limited.
The learned Silk also pointed out that Ringer Media’s counsel also described its client’s name as Ringier Nigeria Limited in the conditional memorandum of appearance filed by the said counsel on Ringier Media’s behalf.
On the same day, Eagle Eye’s Counsel also moved an application to amend their Writ of Summons and other accompanying originating processes to reflect the proper name of Ringier Media.
Court proceedings were witnessed by a Newsroom correspondent when Justice Hassan gave his ruling on Monday, June 2, 2018. On Ringer Media’s application to strike out the suit, the learned judge held on the first leg, that the omission can be treated as a misnomer and representatives for the plaintiffs are allowed to file an application for amendment.
“There is no kind of mistake or error which the court cannot correct, except it is intended to cause injustice to a party. The omission can be corrected without causing injustice to the other party,” he ruled.
The Learned judge also held on the second leg, that looking at certain paragraphs in Eagle Eye’s Statement of Claim, the court is satisfied that a reasonable cause of action has been disclosed against Ringier Media.
The learned judge thereafter dismissed Ringier Media’s application and awarded cost of N20,000 in favor of the Plaintiffs against Ringier Media.
On Eagle Eye Production’s application to amend, the learned judge ruled that representatives for Eagle Eye Production Limited were misled by Ringier Media. He made references to the exhibits submitted by the legal counsel for the Eagle Eye, where it was established that Ringier Media Nigeria Limited described itself only as Ringier Nigeria in various correspondences. Thus, the learned judge reiterated as follows:
“As stated earlier, there is no mistake or error which the court cannot correct, except it is intended to cause injustice to the second party,” Justice Hassan ruled.
“The omission of the word ‘media’ is a misnomer which can be corrected without causing injustice to the second defendant.”
The Learned judge awarded another N20,000 sum in favour of the plaintiffs against Ringier Media Nigeria Limited. Eagle Eye Production counsel in court, Miss Adeola Agunbiade, prayed the court for further dates for hearing.
Justice Hassan adjourned the matter to October 11, 2018 for mention.