Veteran Nollywood actor, Richard Mofe Damijo, has instituted legal action against e-commerce platform, Jumia, for using his image on its social media platforms.
The actor, popularly known as RMD, is unhappy with the usage of his Instagram photos without his consent. Although Jumia has taken down the photos in contention, RMD’s lawyers are set to sue the e-commerce platform for punitive and exemplary damages for the infringement of his image rights.
While series of unconfirmed reports were swirling through the grapevine, TheCable reached out to reliable sources close to both parties to get accurate accounts of the dispute.
Handlers of the Instagram account of Jumia admitted using photos of the iconic actor alongside hashtags promoting JumiaFashion but when his representatives indicated disapproval, the pictures were “immediately” taken down.
An insider disclosed that since May 2016 when RMD’s solicitors first contacted the company, “Jumia Fashion’s Instagram page has not re-posted any of RMD’s photos” while stressing that none of his images were ever used on the website of the company “to sell any products or brands”.
Following the actor’s disapproval in re-posting his photos on Jumia Fashion Instagram page, the insider said the company “apologised”, took down the photos and “has responded to subsequent letters informing them of this.
The insider further disclosed that aside from complaining about the act, lawyers of the actor asked Jumia to “offer conciliatory compensation”.
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After this demand, the legal team of Jumia was said to have responded to the solicitors and explained that the images were never used for any commercial purposes.
“The photos were editorial posts on Jumia Fashion Instagram page and several other celebrities are likewise featured,” the source said.
However, RMD’s solicitors were hellbent on “conciliatory/monetary compensation” but the e-commerce company maintained that the pictures were never used for promotional purposes.
Meanwhile, RMD’s camp maintains that the action of Jumia Fashion and its subsequent lackadaisical attitude have adversely “affected” the actor’s brand.
According to the brand/image representative of the actor, the use of RMD’s photos on Jumia’s social media platforms cost an endorsement deal and possibly prospective ones.
“We were talking to a couple of fashion brands who want him to be an ambassador and one of them actually pointed it out, that apparently RMD was endorsing Jumia Fashion,” she said.
“Since that conversation with one of the fashion brands that wanted RMD to endorse their products, their communication with us has slowed down a great deal.”
After this notification, RMD’s team went on an online search to determine the extent of the alleged infringement, and “we found out the hashtag, which connotes that he’s endorsing Jumia as there were comments where people were saying ‘how do I find out what he’s wearing.’”
Subsequently, the actor’s lawyer wrote a letter to the company, who merely deleted the photos from its Instagram page but failed to render an apology or “do the needful”, according to the representative.
Mofe-Damijo’s camp further stressed that he’s not interested in Jumia’s compensation. However,
“there are some things you do out of principle just to prove a point and to serve as a deterrent to others”.
The actor’s handlers also asserted that some other brands may not be able to approach the actor for endorsement deals because Jumia Fashion is “too wack to share a brand ambassador with”.
TheCable also learnt that RMD’s lawyer has the prerogative to pursue the case in court and that even though the actor is aware of the developments, he’s “not actively doing anything”.
“I say this with all sense of responsibility and respect to shoppers from the Jumia Fashion line, that RMD will never wear anything off the Jumia line.
“The lawyer handling his affairs got in touch with us and we’ve had several meetings and conversations and whatever the lawyer wants to do within the legal limit, he has the liberty to do it”, the actor’s rep added.