Please Call Me Inventor Still Waiting For Payment
While the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court ruled in his favour, Nkosana Makate, the inventor of the well-known Please Call Me service of Vodacom has yet to see a cent.
The Constitutional Court ruled that Makate should receive reasonable compensation from Vodacom. Many people believed then that Makate would become an instant billionaire, but Vodacom said in February this year that the Please Call Me service was a free service and reiterated that there was “no direct attributable revenue” according to its Chief Financial Officer, Till Streichert. According to Streichert it is highly speculative if Vodacom generated revenue from customers calling one another if they received the Please Call Me message.
Apparently an offer of R49m was made to Makate, which he rejected. It has come to light that Makate’s legal funders are also now claiming a portion of his windfall, which is yet to be paid. Makate is opposing this claim and stated that there is nothing that can be offered to them. Online technology news site MyBroadband reported that Chris Schoeman, one of the litigation funders, said Makate is technically bankrupt and owes a lot of people money. Schoeman claims that Makate went on a spending spree with money people “threw” at him after his Constitutional Court victory.
In a twist to the whole saga, Ari Khan, who previously consulted for MTN said he created the “Please Call Me” technology in 2000. According to MyBroadband, Vodacom has in private acknowledged Khan as the inventor of the service. Seemingly the SA Patent Office granted the Call Me patent to Kahn and MTN, and recognised Kahn as the inventor, on 22 January 2001.Khan’s view is that Vodacom should not pay Makate anything because he was not the original inventor of the Please Call Me technology.