An article published on BBC glorifying an invention by Katrin Puetz has stirred controversy after a Kenyan, Dominic Wanjihia, emerged to claim the idea.
The article tells the story of how Ethiopians are benefiting from the use of a portable biogas digestor, B-Energy, whose invention they credit to Puetz.
“B-Energy is the brainchild of German entrepreneur Katrin Puetz, 34.
“With a masters in agricultural engineering, Ms Puetz began the project while working for Hohenheim University in Stuttgart,” reads the artice on bbc.com.
But Wanjihia, in a letter to the BBC, said that Puetz stole the idea, for which he has patent, which he claims to have registered through his company Flexi Biogas Technology. .
“I am horrified to see Katrin Putz taking credit for my design on BBC,” said Wanjihia.
The digester takes the form of a canvas balloon, in which food and animal waste are fed, and after a while decomposes to produce methane.
“Katrin was invited to Kenya by our partners IFAD to ‘give us insight into German biogas methodology to improve our Flexi Biogas technology’. She was with us for a week where we learned nothing from her at all.
“She returned to Germany where she dropped all her digester designs and began copying our system letter for letter. We learned about a year later that she had started a company called B-Energy. She has admitted copying but has ignored letters to cease and desist from replicating our system,” lamented Wanjihia.
Wanjihia now wants BBC to pull down the article, and any awards that have been given to Puetz revoked.
Ms. Puetz filed a patent for the invention in October 2011 and it was granted on February 27, 2014. We are yet to establish when Wanjihia’s patent was awarded.
But should he have evidence to show that he had it first, he can seek legal redress from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) based in Geneva Switzerland, an international body of which Kenya is a member.