Feb 23, 2016 – Oluchi Onweagba Loses N780 Billion West Africa’s Next Top Model Copyright Lawsuit To Chudi Charles
A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, February 12, dismissed the preliminary objections filed by former winner of the Face of Africa pageant, Oluchi Onweagba, who was contesting a copyright suit filed against her.
The former beauty queen was charged to court for copyright and trademark infringement by one Chudi Charles, CEO of International Pageant and Films, for infringing on his West Africa’s Next Top Model trademark.
Joined in the suit are the Nigerian Copyrights Commission, Etisalat Nigeria, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mtech, Multichoice Nigeria, and CBS Corporation of the United States.
Explaining the rationale behind the suit, Charles said that he registered West Africa’s Top Model as a trademark in 2003 with the aim of developing pageantry in this part of the world, but to his chagrin, some other body is using his brand name with impunity.
“We registered it in order for people who want to organise it to pay us royalty. That is normally what is done. That is why we went through all that but the culture of impunity left by the previous administration is reflecting in what these companies have adopted. The case was filed during the previous administration but they felt that with impunity, they can do anything,” he said.
Reacting to his suit, the defendants, led by Oluchi, filed an objection, claiming that they got the rights to host and perform Africa’s Next Top Model from Tyra Banks, the organiser of America’s Next Top Model.
“When they filed their objection, if it was to succeed, they would have presented before the court a superior title. Since they were unable to present a superior title before the court, their objection has to fail. If they believe that they have a superior title, they would have presented it to the court. That is why we are suing them for damages of N780bn,” he added.
Asked if he is open to negotiation, Charles said: “Of course what is stopping us from negotiating. I don’t have to reach out to them, they have to reach out to us.”