After a convoluted court battle and immense negative publicity, telecommunication giant Vodacom has claimed that MTN invented and patented the idea for the ‘Please Call Me’ before Nkosana Kenneth Makate came up with the idea and presented it to them.
My Broadband reports that this revelation was made in an opinion column written by chief officer of legal and regulatory affairs at Vodacom, Nkateko Nyoka that appeared in Business Times over the weekend.
According to Nkoya, MTN launched its version called Call Me a month before Vodacom did following the consulting services of Ari Kahn in 2001 as laid out in a timeline by My Broadband.
After a protracted legal battle between Makate and Vodacom, the Constitutional Court ruled that Makate must be compensated by Vodacom for his involvement in the invention of the Please Call Me.
The company’s CEO was to determine a fair amount and ensure Makate received his funds.
According to a Vodacom spokesperson, the group CEO, Shameel Joosub, along with Vodacom’s lawyers met with Makate’s legal representation a few weeks ago to convey Joosub’s decision as per the Constitutional Court order.
Due to the confidentiality agreement in place, the amount cannot be disclosed, but it was previously incorrectly reported that Vodacom had finally paid Makate.
“I haven’t reached any deal with Vodacom, I was dumped with some determination that the deal was done. We are reviewing that and we will be taking it up further,” Makate told EWN in a past interview.
Vodacom later claimed they would transfer the funds as soon as they received Makate’s bank account details after public pressure from communication minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi.
Kahn has now come forward and stated that he believes Makate should not get a cent from Vodacom.
He asserts that the courts never once ruled that Makate invented the service.
“You cannot invent an idea, which is all he proposed,” said Kahn.
He also stated that because MTN chose not to enforce their rights at the time, Vodacom was able to benefit from the service and should therefore not owe their success to Makate.
A previous version of this article stated that ‘Vodacom has claimed that an MTN employee named Ari Kahn invented and patented the idea for the ‘Please Call Me’ before Nkosana Kenneth Makate came up with the idea and presented it to them.’
Kahn was merely a consultant for MTN and MTN has been credited with the idea for the free ‘call me’ message service.
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)