NB faces lawsuit by Engineering Firm over Intellectual Property
The company is claiming the usage of its “blueprint” by the Brewery in solving an important problem without pay, in addition to owing the firm outstanding contractual obligations.
The claim was contained in a petition by its Counsel A.U.G Ojinta to the Managing Director of the Nigeria Breweries Plc (NBplc) demanding for the payment of N750 million and N3, 744, 153.15 as fees for the Blueprint design and work done respectively at NBplc’s Ama plant 9th Mile Corner in Enugu State.
However, in a quick reaction, NBplc denied owing the firm any money insisting that whatever job the firm did was paid for.
But in the petition made available to journalists in Enugu on Monday, Ojinta, counsel to Evanpower Engineering Ltd alleged that NBL refused to pay the engineering company after using the blueprint it designed to solve a control system challenge at its Ama plant.
He said: “Our client instructs that sometime in the month of July 2014, your company’s Access Control System at Ama was struck by lightning and the Superterm Control Panel at the security room at the entrance gate 2 was damaged. Your company had advertised for the repair but because it was a highly specialist job, none of your registered vendors/contractors could handle or bided for it.
“As at that time, our Client was not registered as a Vendor/Contractor with your Company. She was sought for and she came. She repaired the broken down Superterm panel and got the panel to work with the Turnstile gate and that made history at your Ama plant as, from the information she got later, none of your Company’s registered contractors in Nigeria has ever been able to record such feat in your Access Control System. This particular service was paid for by your Company”.
Ojinta stated that following the repair, the NBplc asked his Client to apply for registration as vendor/Contractor with the company, which she did and was registered on May 21, 2015, under the automation, instrumentation and Control System category.
Ojinta stated that his Client was issued with work permit after the registration and was instructed to work on Revamping the Access Control System at the company’s Ama plant, sometime in June, 2017.
“Our client was issued with work permits which covered the period June 4 to July 31, 2017 duly endorsed by the Automation Engineer, Engineering Manager, Safety Manager and Brewery Manager which actually was for revamping of the Access Control System and other ancillary work that included laying new cables at the Turnstile Gate at Ama plant. At the end PO was raised dated August 7, 2017 attesting to the fact that my client had been through with what my client was asked to do”, he stated
Ojinta added that, Evanpower Engineering Limited had before then developed a blue print for NBL which was used in solving the Access Control System at the demand of the beer company’s automation engineer
“The first part was made available to you through your said Automation Engineer in July 2017 while the second was in October 2017”, he said
Ojinta stated that the NBplc had gone ahead to ditch the services of his Client when it had not paid for the use of the Blue Print from him.
He stated that the NBplc acknowledged the receipt and use of his Client’s Blue Print vide her letter of June 14, 2018.
“Unfortunately, in the said letter, your company first claimed that our client never made it clear that she was to be paid for the use of the Blue Print, her intellectual property, by your company. That we consider very absurd to say the least. Secondly, she chose to confuse our client’s demand for payment of N3, 744, 153. 15 for services already rendered as contained in the technical report she had sent to you with her demand for payment for the use of her Blue Print.
“It is against the foregoing that our client has instructed us to demand and we demand that your company pay within 21 days from the receipt of this letter”, Ojinta said.
The NBplc, has however denied any liability to the Engineering firm, stressing that there was no record of any transaction of such documented with the company.
NBplc’s Legal Manager, Operations, Mr Chidubem Aguguo, stated in their response to the petition that there was no merit in the claim by the engineering company. The beer company he said “rejects this claim in its entirety”
He said: “We reiterate that at no time did we commit to pay your client for any document (Whether quotation, blueprint or any other document whatsoever) submitted by it in respect of the reactivation of the access control system at our Ama Brewery (“Project”). Moreover, your client was duly paid for the work it did for us, including the materials it supplied for the project.
“Thus we are not in any way indebted to your client to any amount whatsoever. We found the claim to be without merit and do hereby reject same in its entirety”.