KAMPALA — A group of former Kyambogo University students have filed a case in the Commercial Division of the High Court—suing Makerere University and Government over alleged copyright breach on their electronic university management computer software system.
Others sued include former Kyambogo University lecturer Mr. John Okuonzi.
According to court documents seen by PML Daily, the students operating under Zeenode, say that between 2006 and 2010 while studying at Kyambogo University, they jointly coded an IT system they named E-Kampus to ease online pre-admission and admission of students, online registration and data management.
Kyambogo University was their first university adopt the innovation after they shared idea to Mr. John Okuonzi who worked with them in presenting their innovation to University authorities.
“The shareholders (students) shared their invention with the third respondent(Kyambogo University) lecturer, John Okuonzi who worked together with them in presenting their invention to the management of Kyambogo University. The E-Kampus was a resounding success in Kyambogo,” the court documents indicate.
The group says that Kyambogo University adopted the system as they continued with their research and development that saw them register copyrights of the innovation as Zeevarsity and Zeepay.
In 2017 Ministry of ICT and National Guidance officials under the leadership of Permanent Secretary Vincent Bagiire assessed and recommended its use in all public universities.
Court documents further state that on July 4th, 2017, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, wrote to all heads of public universities and self-accounting tertiary institutions, informing them that the policy of government was for all of the said institutions to adopt the system.
The students say that in 2018, they entered a contract with government to design, supply and develop an IT system known as the Academic Information Management System (AIMS) in all public universities and self-accounting tertiary institutions where it was agreed that the six students own all the intellectual rights.
“At the time of the end of the project report, AIMS had enabled the collection of UGX486 billion from students in revenue. At the end of the initial term of the contract, the plaintiff (students) invoiced the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance for UGX6.2 billion being outstanding invoices arising out of the contract,” court documents indicate.
The students also say that in June 2020, government denied that there were any outstanding sums of money owed to the students but court documents indicate that instead government asked that they sign a new contract in which they were supposed to carry out maintenance of the system they had created which they say wasn’t part of the agreement.
“The plaintiff will contend that government of Uganda moving to maintenance and support of the plaintiff’s (Student) AIMS system without purchasing it is unconstitutional as it amounts to compulsory acquisition of the property without prior adequate compensation.”
The group also accuse Ministry of ICT, which was the custodian of their IT system’s source-code of breaching its duties when it allowed Makerere University and their former lecturer, John Okuonzi, to access the source code for an upgrade without authorization from them and is a breach of contract.
They claim that Makerere Vice Chancellor and Mr Okuonzi have expressly solicited several public universities and the government to move all implementing public universities from the students’ AIMS unto its own illegal upgrade AIMS 2.0.