Vodacom, Please Call Me creator in legal deadlock

2017-01-27 14:46 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Vodacom. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Johannesburg - Vodacom says it is committed to negotiations with ‘Please Call Me’ inventor, Kenneth Makate, after the company filed court papers this week. 

The company this week filed an affidavit at the Constitutional Court in response to Makate's latest court application.

South Africa’s highest court ruled in April last year that Johannesburg-based Vodacom must compensate Makate for the Please Call Me idea.

Makate, a former employee of Vodacom, is credited with coining the concept for the Please Call Me idea in 2001, which allows customers with no balance on their mobile phones to alert someone with a free text message. Makate's victory in the Constitutional Court came after years of legal battles over the matter.

Vodacom told Fin24 on Friday that the Constitutional Court Order, which previously directed the parties to negotiate in good faith to determine reasonable compensation, “is clear and unambiguous”. 

In December, negotiations between Makate and Vodacom hit a brick-wall with the matter going back to court.

Makate applied for an order at the Consitutional Court seeking clarification on the import and meaning of a judgment handed down last year. 

“Under the guise of seeking clarification on the order, Mr Makate is in effect asking the Constitutional Court to issue a new order in the form of a share of revenue as the sole methodology for determining reasonable compensation,” Byron Kennedy, Vodacom spokesperson said. 

It was previously reported that Vodacom was considering compensation methodologies in which the company mulled whether it should take the form of profit or share of revenue.

READ: Please Call Me inventor heads back to ConCourt

“Vodacom remains committed to negotiations with Mr Makate and is prepared to resume talks at his earliest convenience. Mr Makate's present application is, in Vodacom's view, premature,” Kennedy told Fin24.

“The process set out in the Constitutional Court Order, including the intervention of the Vodacom Group CEO in the event of a deadlock, must be exhausted by the parties before the courts can be approached for any relief,” Kennedy added.

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