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‘Reserve Bank of Malawi not for sale’

Hight Court saves central bank building

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MADE INITIAL RULING—Mtalimanja

The High Court sitting in Blantyre has stopped architect David Chidyaonga, trading as DDC Designs, from selling Mzuzu building of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).

Judge Kenani Manda has stopped Chidyaonga from executing his plans through an injunction which RBM sought.

Although issues to do with payment for his services were resolved by Judge Annabel Mtalimanja, Chidyaonga claims he has exclusive copyright to the building and nobody, including the bank’s officials, can occupy it without his licence or permission.

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According to Chidyaonga, the ruling delivered by Mtalimanja on March 2 2017 cannot hold now, saying he got the exclusive rights to the building he is talking about from the USA Copyright Registration Index after the ruling on April 29 2020.

Chidyaonga believes that, since he got the rights after Mtalimanja’s ruling, the ruling does not stop him from exercising his property rights including licencing and/or selling it.

But, in his ruling, Manda dismissed Chidyaonga’s arguments, saying occupying a building does not constitute infringement of a copyright of the designer who made its designs.

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“For an infringement to take place, the infringed work should be copyrighted, a right should be infringed, and there was no defence. Copyright infringement is an unauthorised violation of exclusive rights of the author and owner of an intellectual property.

“In the present context, there is no doubt that the claimant has not duplicated the designs of the Mzuzu building. According to the defendant, he believes he can sell the Mzuzu building because the claimant has infringed on his copyright by occupying the building without his licence or permission,” the ruling reads.

Manda insists that occupying a building does not constitute copyright, adding that the issue of Chidyaonga’s payment for the services rendered was adequately dealt with by Mtalimanja.

“Further, the relationship between the claimant (RBM) and defendant Chidyaonga was that the latter was hired to provide architectural services for which the only thing the defendant would be entitled to would be payment for those services.

“In fact, it would be absolutely ridiculous for the law to recognise such rights, much as it is said that the law is an ass,” Manda said.

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