High court orders Vodacom to pay ‘Please Call Me’ inventor 5% of revenue
The court ordered Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub to finalise the new determination within one month.
By Getrude Makhafola | The Citizen |
‘Please Call Me’ inventor Nkosana Makate is entitled to 5% of telecommunication giant Vodacom’s revenue generated from his invention for the past 20 years, the Pretoria High Court ruled on Tuesday.
Makate first laid a claim in court in 2015 for millions of rands from Vodacom for the successful service that the company introduced in 2001, which allows cellphone users to send a free message to another user requesting that they be called back.
The Constitutional Court in 2016 ordered Vodacom to pay their former accountant for coming up with the concept. Protracted negotiations ensued between the two parties, but failed to reach a settlement.
Makate rejected Vodacom’s offer of R47 million in 2019.
Judge Wendy Hughes added: “The total voice revenue included Please Call Me revenue derived from prepaid, contracts (both in-bundle and out-bundle) and interconnect fees as set out in Vodacom’s annual financial statements.”
“The determination (R47m) by the CEO is referred back to Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub who is obliged to make a fresh determination with the following directives: The applicant (Makate) is entitled to be paid 5% of the total voice revenue generated from the PCM product from March 2001 to March 2021,” read the judgment in a SowetanLIVE report.
Hughes ordered Joosub to finalise the new court resolution within one month.
Makate received widespread support on social media platforms. A group that called itself ‘The Please Call Me Movement’ was later formed to put pressure on Vodacom to pay up. They held protests outside the company’s head quarters in Midrand, calling on management to pay Makate R70 billion as a settlement.
Speaking to SAFM, Makate said he was relieved after a 20-year battle that culminated in 10 years of litigation.
“It’s a relief, judgment has finally been made. The court agreed with us… ‘Please Call Me’ is still popular and generating revenue for all networks.”
Makate said he doesn’t have an estimation as to how much he would receive from Vodacom.
“Let’s allow the CEO to do it according to the model as instructed by the court. The CEO will have to deliver within a month as per the judgement…it has been a long journey and we are reaching its culmination.”