A man is suing the Ministry of Education, the Education Cabinet Secretary, the Attorney-General over the ownership of the National Educational Management Information System (Nemis).
George Kamau – through his company Netresource Ltd – claims he is the copyright owner of a computer program and software known as Institutions Network.
In the court documents, Kamau says he presented the program to the Ministry of Education in 2014 seeking a partnership.
However, the ministry declined his offer and later unveiled Nemis in 2018 “which is similar to my software”.
“Netresource Ltd intended to license the copyrighted computer programme and/or software known as ‘Institutions Network’ to the Ministry of Education at Sh50,000 per institution,” court papers read in part.
He noted that most of the correspondence to the Ministry of Education was never received in the official stamp and that communication to his company from the ministry officials was through personal emails and phone numbers.
“These acts were carried out with ill motives. They were maliciously intended to fraudulently infringe on Netresource’s proprietary rights in the computer software and/or programme known as Institutional Network,” his application read.
Kamau is also suing one Benson Omondi who was an IT employee at the ministry.
He claims Omondi invited him to make a presentation to ministry officials on February 8, 2015.
“On November 8, 2015…I submitted the codes to the copyrighted computer programme and/or software known as ‘Institutions Network’, together with its database to Mr Benson Omondi…at his offices…to showcase and pitch its usefulness.
“Present at the meeting was the chairperson, Mrs Rebecca Gathoni. By the end of the meeting, the chairperson commented: ‘We will definitely recommend this system’.” The court papers read.
In a reply to the suit, Principal State Counsel Emmanuel Kiarie said Kamau’s application had not alluded to any contract between Netresource and the Ministry of Education, meaning there was no breach of contract.
He added that Netresource failed to demonstrate how Nemis infringes on copyright work relating to Institutions Network.
Kiarie said Nemis does not have a commercial benefit to the government as the ministry never charges users to access it.
“Therefore, there is no danger that the subject matter is likely to be sold or wasted by the respondents,” he argued.
“Nemis…has captured details of millions of students, parents and guardians and so there is need for the court to safeguard and ensure the safety of private, personal and confidential data.”