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Architect drags businessman to court over copyright infringement

By Our Reporter
A Lagos based Architect, Olagoke Kehinde, and his company Decision Nigeria limited, have instituted a N762 million copyright infringement suit against a Lagos businessman Kayode Ogunlesi.
Others joined as co-defendants are Atlantis Construction Company, Deji Akinwande, Pierro Mjally, Chief Tunde Afolabi and One Fadi Abdel Nour.
In a statement of claim filed before a Federal High Court, Lagos, by a Lagos lawyer, Oluwole Kehinde, the plaintiffs alleged that Ogunlesi who claimed to be the owner of property situate at 17 or 290b, Akin Olugbade Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, engaged their services to remodel and develop the property, while Akinwande was his project supervisor in respect of the site.
However, some of the documents for town planning approvals and drawings in respect of the project site were processed in the name of the previous owner Dr Patrick E. Jakpa because Atlantis Construction Company had not perfected its title to the property.
On 26th of May 2013, Akinwande introduced the architectural brief of Kayode Ogunlesi living at 39, Oduduwa Crescent, GRA Ikeja, Lagos to the plaintiff, Arch. Olagoke Kehinde.
Thereafter, Olagoke was commissioned to produce architectural designs for the residential remodeling and a lettable office block in respect of 17or Plot 290b, Akin Olugbade Street, Victoria Island.
On June, 2013, Ogunlesi and Akinwande confirmed the Plaintiffs architectural design’s competence by coming to inspect their ongoing project site belonging to Lee Engineering at 98% at 16b, Allen Avenue, Ikeja and made a down payment of N1.5million.
On 25th August 2013 and 4th September 2013, Ogunlesi handed over to Akinwande, vetted town planning architectural approved residential drawings, and the construction drawings of office block design respectively.
Surprisingly, sometimes in 2018, Akinwande came to the site and said Atlantis Construction Company should take over the remedial road works being executed by the plaintiffs, based on the plaintiffs voiced inability to complete the remedial road works within ten days duration he wanted.
However, Atlantis Construction Company ended up not finishing the remedial road works in one and half months.
Unity Bank team visited the site where they met Mr Pierro Mjally of Atlantis Construction Company who claimed to be the plaintiff’s site’s contractor. The Unity Bank’s team, after stating their mission, then fixed a date with Mr Mjally and requested him to come with the site’s architect to their bank for full briefing.
On the appointed day, Mjally went with their members of staff led by Fadi Abdel Nour of Premont Investment Limited to the meeting. They claimed to be the site’s main contractor, project design architect, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers.
Unity Bank believed the team because of Atlantis Construction Company’s bill board placed on the site gate house roof along the road.
Secondly, on logging to the web site on the bill board, it displayed the plaintiff’s lettable office block administrative building’s 3D drawing which the plaintiff, Arch. Olagoke had earlier furnished Akinwande without his permission, and they claimed to be the project architects and main contractors in the stated web sites.
Upon further investigations, it was discovered to the plaintiff’s surprise that Ogunlesi, Akinwande and Faji Abdel Nour are key members of the board of directors of Atlantis Company as listed in their web site.
The plaintiffs averred that by their act the defendants breached his copyright to the architectural drawings in respect of the lettable offices.
The plaintiffs averred further that they lost business opportunity offered by Unity Bank Plc, including other captivating prospective clients attracted by his design and construction works, by diverting them through their displayed web site personnel.
The plaintiffs claim against the defendants jointly and severally are as follows:
• The sum of N7,621,000.00 being special and general damages for the infringement of their copyright In the construction drawings.
• Injunction against the defendants from further breaching the copyright of the plaintiffs.
However, the defendants in their statement of defence filed before the court by Barrister Tope Adebayo, denied almost all the claims of the plaintiffs and stated that Ogunlesi is the owner of the property while Akinwande is the property developer who has absolute powers to appoint or engage any consultant or contractor for the project.
Consequently, having engaged Arch Olagoke Kehinde, his full professional fees as consideration for the services to be rendered being procurement of relevant and approvals and production of architectural designs were fully paid.
The defendant denied that no request for the auto cad soft copy of the construction drawings was made to the plaintiffs since the design was a joint effort between Arch Olagoke and the two defendants respectively. They equally stated that they did not receive any flash drive containing the auto cad soft copy of the construction from him or any person.
Consequently, the defendants counter-claimed in the sum of N50million incurred to procure development permit for commercial remodeling of building and N10 million as damages for breach of contract.

About Demola Abimboye