Copyright infringement allegations stalls launch of ‘Domitilla’ remake

Nollywood actress Ann Njemanze has sued well-known filmmaker Zeb Ejiro and two others for infringing on her copyright.

Ms Njemanze, famed for taking part in the titular character within the 1996 basic film, ‘Domitilla’ has taken the famed filmmaker to courtroom for infringing on the identify ‘Domitilla’ which she had trademarked.

In keeping with courtroom paperwork obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the actress calls for N50 million from Mr Ejiro for the registered trademark infringement.

Additionally joined within the case towards Mr Ejiro are Filmone Leisure and Movie Trybe Media.

In 2020, 24 years after its unique launch, Zeb Ejiro Productions introduced a partnership with FilmOne Leisure and Omoni Oboli’s Dioni Imaginative and prescient that may see the remake of the Nollywood basic.

Three Nigerian movie manufacturing corporations partnered to provide the sequel in Lagos.

The movie’s manufacturing was to kick-start later that 12 months, whereas its launch in cinemas was scheduled for the primary quarter of 2021.

That very same 12 months, Ms Njemanze trademarked the identify, ‘Domitilla’ which gave her fame within the Nigerian film trade.

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Going by the courtroom paperwork, Ms Njemanze can be asking for N5m for the price of litigation and legal professionals charges incurred.

She can be asking the courtroom for an order of injunction restraining the defendants or another individual from utilizing her trademark (Domitila) or another mark that’s deceptively much like the registered trademark.

Efforts to succeed in Ms Njemanze proved abortive. Her authorized consultant, Bartholomew Aguegbodo, declined to touch upon the difficulty, though he confirmed to this newspaper that the case was in courtroom.

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Nonetheless, Mr Ejiro, in an announcement of defence filed by his legal professionals led by Rockson Igelige, described the current motion by Ms Njemanze as a gold-digging train instituted with the intent of creating undue monetary good points from the Defendants.

In an interview with this newspaper on Friday, Mr Ejiro, answerable for such Nollywood hits like ‘Nneka the Fairly Serpent’ (1994), ‘Mortal Inheritance’ (1996) and ‘Sakobi the Snake Woman’ amongst others, stated that he reached out to Ms Njemanze to do a reboot of the film, ‘Domitilla’.

In keeping with him, she demanded more cash than he had budgeted for her position.

“I provided her N2m, not realizing she had gone behind me to trademark my mental property. I’ve been utilizing the identify for a very long time. I’ve taken ‘Domitilla’ to movie festivals everywhere in the world.

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“We needed to abandon the script and begin a brand new script. The following factor was she got here with the police calling a thief in public. She even went with the police to FilmOne, our accomplice, to go looking their workplace. I attempted to succeed in out to her, however she refused to choose up my calls. I needed to ask the heads of various guilds to intervene,” he stated.


Talking with this newspaper, Mr Ejiro stated that he first met Ms Njemanze in 1995 when she got here to audition for a film, ‘African Queen’ which he produced with veteran singer Mike Okri.

In keeping with him, she misplaced the position to Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, who got here 1st, whereas Ann got here 2nd.

“She was a small woman then, and he or she was crying. She stated she deserved to come back first as a result of she might act. I noticed that, certainly, she might carry out. So I informed her I’d be capturing a film subsequent 12 months and that if she might lose some weight as a result of she was chubby, I’d make her the lead character.

“In February of 1996, she contacted me, and I noticed that she had misplaced weight. I gave her the lead character in ‘Domitilla’, which she performed effectively. She additionally reprised the character in 1999 for an element shot in London.

“Now it’s time for a reboot, however as a result of she is now a lot older, we determined to offer her a task because the aunt to one of many characters, however she was asking for N17m for under 5 scenes,” he stated.

Defence, countersuit

In a case filed within the Federal Excessive Courtroom of Nigeria with go well with quantity FHC/L/CS/2305/2022 filed by her legal professionals led by Mr Aguegbodo, Ms Njemanze is accusing Mr Ejiro and the opposite defendants of infringing on the unique proper of her trademark, ‘Domitilla & System’, which she registered on sixteenth September 2020.

Nonetheless, of their assertion of defence, the defendants deny her allegations whereas objecting to the competence of the go well with.

“The first Defendant’s principal (Zeb Ejiro Productions Restricted) has been utilizing the phrase repeatedly since 1996 in advertising the movies earlier than the date of the Plaintiff’s alleged software for registration and or purported registration of ‘Domitilla & System’ as a commerce mark,” their defence reads.

In the meantime, Mr Ejiro’s authorized consultant, Mr Igelige, informed this newspaper that the filmmaker had instructed him to take the actress to courtroom for breach of confidence.

Mr Igelige stated, “We might be asking her for N500m for utilizing confidential info that she has entry to throughout her position as an actress within the manufacturing of ‘Domitilla’ 1 and a pair of”.


The crime drama movie tells the story of a younger Domitilla Junior, who will get into adventurous, romantic escapades for survival. She and her gang of prostitute pals are sadly caught up within the mysterious demise of a politician and should do every part potential to show their innocence.

Domitilla featured A-list actors reminiscent of Anne Njemanze, Sandra Achums, Kate Henshaw, Adah Ameh and the late Enebeli Elebuwa, to say a couple of.

Though the lead character, Ms Njemanze, had earlier starred in an equally profitable film, ‘True Confession’, her position in ‘Domitilla’ noticed her assume star standing.

The movie additionally made the likes of the late Ada Ameh and Alex Lopez prompt celebrities.

Domitilla remake

Like its predecessors, the remake of ‘Domitilla’ additionally captures Nigeria’s thriving prostitution rings and the willpower of a bunch of females to exert dominance utilizing their thighs.

The film stars a few of Nollywood’s best actors, made up of veterans and new-generation actors.

Chiwetalu Agwu, Elvina Ibru, Onyinye Odokoro, Stan Nze, Teniola Aladese, Uzoamaka Doris Aniunoh, Ejiro Onojaife, Seun Ajayi, Okey Jude, Chioma Okafor, Chinyere Wilfred, and Sonny Mcdon.

Nollywood and Mental Property theft

Since its inception, Nollywood has been slowed down not solely by piracy but in addition by mental property theft.

In 2016, ANA Prize-winning playwright Jude Idada accused Nollywood actress and filmmaker Omoni Oboli of stealing his script to be used in her movie, ‘Okafor’s Legislation’.

The accusation led to a courtroom injunction stopping Okafor’s Legislation from premiering.

Ms Oboli was later granted the rights to the story.

Additionally in 2016, Former Inspiration FM Presenter Wana Udobang accused Nollywood director Niyi Akinmolayan of mental theft.

Ms Udobang claimed that Mr Akinmolayan stole her idea, ‘Room 313’, and made it into a brief movie titled ‘Room 315’.

She claimed that ‘Room 315’ has an analogous plot and identify to her experimental collection about individuals who have skilled trauma present process remedy, which has been out there for viewing since 2015.

Nigeria’s Mental Property Act states that copyright may be protected by registration with the Nigerian Copyright Fee. This protects the unique proper granted to an originator of inventive work to breed the job for a sure interval.

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