Last Thursday, Wema Bank was ordered by a Federal High Court in Lagos to pay US-based Nigerian model, Nneoma Anosike, N10million as damages for the infringement of her intellectual property.
The bank was found guilty of breaching the model’s privacy by using her photograph in a campaign material without her consent.
Apart from awarding financial damages, the court gave an order of injunction restraining the bank from further passing off or enabling others to pass off Nneoma’s professional services.
Wema Bank was also directed to tender a letter of apology to the young woman, and to publish a written apology in two dailies in the US and in two national newspapers circulating around Nigeria.
Nneoma announced her arrival on the modelling scene when she won the Elite Model Look Nigeria contest in 2013 at the age of 18. She was a 2014 brand ambassador of Pepsi Cola Nigeria and took part in the Get Naked campaign for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) the same year. She entered into a three-year management contract with Ford Model Incorporated, New York in 2014 for which she travelled to the United States of America to continue her career. She represented one of the dark shades of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty’s foundation in a 2017 campaign.
In 2017, Nneoma dragged Wema Bank plc before a Federal High Court in Lagos, over alleged infringement on intellectual property. The 21 year old plaintiff sued through her father, Mr Frank Anosike, as lawful Attorney, claiming the sum of N75 million against Wema, as general damages for passing off her services.
The plaintiff who is based in America claimed the sum of N20 million as damages for breach of her privacy, by advertising her photograph without her consent and special damages of N2million as cost of action, plus 21 percent interest on sum.
Besides, she sought a declaration that she is entitled to her privacy and those of her correspondences, under section 37 of the 1999 constitution. Anosike also sought a public apology from the defendant, to be advertised in National dailies circulating in the U.S and Nigeria.
Led in evidence by his lawyer, Mr Gideon Okebu, Anosike told the court that his daughter entered into a three years management contract with an international firm, named Ford Model Incorporated New York, in 2014.
He said that the plaintiff was granted an American Visa through the instrumentality of Ford, following which she travelled from Nigeria to the United States, to continue her career solely under Ford.
According to the witness, on April 11, 2016, his daughter was requisitioned to attend a meeting with the board of Ford where she was presented with photographic advert of her picture from Instagram, which was photo-edited by Wema bank and further advertised on their website.
He said that his daughter’s picture was used for the advert with the bank’s corporate logo beside her face and the words, “Be yourself, Everyone else is taken.”
According to him, this projection of his daughter by the bank was with the aim of projecting their value and good will using the fame and popularity of the plaintiff.
He said that this act of the defendant, constituted a breach of his daughter’s agreement with Ford Model, as it has caused a retraction of contract extension by the firm.