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Uganda Debt Network, Anti-Corruption Coalition Found Guilty of Intellectual Property Theft

The Uganda Debt Network (UDN) together with two other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) and Transparency International Uganda (TIU) have been ordered by the High Court Commercial Division to pay costs to a one Edward Ronald Sekyewa after they were found guilty of plagiarism and copyright infringement.

The arrangement was that Sekyewa (plaintiff) writes an Issue Paper and send it to UDN, ACCU and TIU for perusal as he prepared to make a presentation of the same paper at a conference which was being organised by these organisations.

“After sending the paper to them, I tried to follow up on when the conference was to take place but they never responded. I miraculously got to know on the very day when the conference took place that these three organizations had taken my paper and removed my organization’s logo replaced it with their 3 logos, removed my name as the author of the paper and they presented it at that conference as their research work,” recalled Sekyewa.

He got to know on the very day the conference would take place that the 3 CSOs had taken his paper, removed his Organization’s logo and replaced it with theirs.

Sekyewa also accused them of removing his name as the author of the paper and presented it at the conference as their research work.

He noted that after pressing them for explanation, the organisation’s leaders tried to distance themselves from the act while the third one claimed they were co-authors of the paper.

“They abused me of being an extortionist yet they had stolen my work and presented it to their donors as theirs,” said Sekyewa.

The revelations are embarrassing for the civil society organisations which have previously presented rigorous research and review papers to inform policy making at local and international level.

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Sekyewa on September 23, 2014 sued all the 3 CSOs for intellectual property theft.

On October 20, 2020, the High Court Justice Elizabeth Jane Alividza ruled in his favor and declared him the author of the Issue Paper on access to information.

The judge determined that the Issue Paper on access to information that bears logos of the 3 defendants was an infringed product of Sekyewa’s work.

She also ordered the defendants to destroy hard and soft copies of the infringed works to avoid the continuation of the infringement and issued an injunction for defendants to restrain from portraying the Issue Paper as their work.

Justice Alividza also ordered the CSOs to compensate Sekyewa.

“In the amended defence filed on 8/2/2018, the 1st defendant, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda and Transparency International Uganda denied liability and stated that they jointly participated in making the Issue Paper,” ruled the judge.

“The 3rd defendant, Uganda Debt Network denied any liability. Therefore, I award the … million as general damages at interest rate of 17% per annum from date of delivery of judgement until payment in full,” reads the ruling in part.

Furthermore, the judge ordered the Organizations to separately make a written apology to Sekyewa and file a copy with the Court.

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