Safaricom has been accused countless times for ‘stealing ideas’.
The thing is, for a corporation as large as Safaricom, generating Sh200 billion in revenue a year, there’s no shortage of ideas. These can be both inhouse or outsourced.
But incidents of people claiming their ideas were stolen never end.
The latest is one Jonathan Gikabu who is accusing the giant telco of stealing his idea of an NFC payment system.
On Wednesday, Safaricom announced their full year results. They also made an exciting announcement of a new card that mirrors your Mpesa account, which make payment easy. They’ve branded it Mpesa 1 Tap.
Mr. Gikabu however feels this is the same idea he presented Safaricom back in 2014.
Here’s the initial email he sent Safaricom back then.
In a letter seeking to enjoin Equity Bank in the suit, the computer scientist says that he is the originator of this idea, having worked on the building blocks back in 2014.
Read the letter below.
It is however extremely unlikely that Equity Bank will offer this poor lad any kind of support.
Some years back, a guy came out claiming that Safaricom had stolen his bus fare idea, which I think was later launched as the 1963 card.
Other ideas Safaricom has been accused of stealing are Lipa Kodi, Maliza Storo, M-Kesho etc.
With all these pending accusations, I wonder why someone would come out and complain in 2017. Don’t you Google?
An idea like Mpesa 1 Tap isn’t so revolutionary that only one person thought of it… No offence to Mr. Gikabu. With a company as big as Safaricom, it’s possible that many ideas are generated and thrown around often. And with the success of Lipa na Mpesa, it would be logical to think that a card would be the next step.
However, if you feel that your idea is what the world has been waiting for, there are ways to protect it before sharing it with outside parties.
The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) should be your first stop before sharing highly priced ideas, designs or prototypes.
If you do not protect your idea, and then share it with Safaricom, there’s nothing stopping them from saying they had the same idea first.
At the time of your disclosure, I don’t believe there’s any law compelling Safaricom to tell you that they’ve been thinking of the same thing.
But still, not every kind of wild idea can be protected. After all, each of us is always day dreaming with thousands of ideas crossing our minds.
According to Kenya’s Industrial Act Section 21 (b), patentable inventions do not include:
“schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games”
Well, that’s a vague statement, but I don’t see anyone winning a case against Safaricom soon.
In fact, the telco welcomed the suit by Mr. Gikabu and co.
We’ll be watching to see how this unfolds.