Henry Wanyoike (right) with his guide Joseph Kibunja (left) during a past training session. PHOTO | FILEHenry Wanyoike (right) with his guide Joseph Kibunja (left) during a past training session. PHOTO | FILE
By MAUREEN KAKAH

A celebrated guide of a blind athlete has sued a multinational manufacturer of pain reliever, Deep Heat, for using his image on social media platforms for four years without his consent.

Joseph Kibunja, who runs with Henry Wanyoike with a short string between them, sued Rohoto Mentholatum Kenya limited, accusing it of making profits from the usage of his photos without passing on any benefits to him.

Through lawyer Julius Njoroge, Mr Kibunja has also sued Harleys limited, a medical equipment supplier. In the case documents, he claimed that he realized the unlawful usage of his images on a billboard in 2013 but learnt that the two companies had been using his photos since 2012.

FACEBOOK PAGE

He alleges that the photos were used to advertise in the Asian weekly, promotional calendars, corporate sponsorship materials such as banners, fliers, t-shirts besides the Deep Heat East Africa’s Facebook page and vehicles.

When he raised the issue with the two companies, they allegedly promised to award him a suitable compensation after alleging that the reason as to why they had never sought for his consent was because he resigned from the Henry Wanyoike’s foundation in 2015.

Deep Heat spray and rub which are used by sportsmen to ease pain. PHOTO | COURTESY

Deep Heat spray and rub which are used by sportsmen to ease pain. PHOTO | COURTESY

But he argues that the continued agitation from the usage of his image by the two caused a lot of animosity in the said foundation hence caused his resignation from it.

Mr Kibunja alleges that despite the fact that the two companies have admitted fault, he accuses them of utterly refusing to pay him even in installments.

REPUTATION

“Even as a member of a foundation, he was and remains to be a professional athlete and as such he has an interest in his image and anyone who wishes to use his image for commercial gain ought to seek and obtain his consent and remunerate him for the same.”

He claimed that he has a well reputation for having won in several national and international athletic events as well as featured as a guide for Mr Wanyoike in Paralympic once yet the sued parties promote their product using his images unlawfully.

He wants it declared that the usage in the promotion of their product without his consent was illegal, that he is entitled to compensation and that the two must be stopped.

He also wants his payment be calculated from when his photos started to be used in 2012 and that it should consider exemplary as well as punitive damages.