The astonishing story behind the Please Call Me fight between Vodacom and MTN

Bradley Prior

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#1

Jake45

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#2
If ICASA and the Department of Communications had been regulating the market properly, call rates would never have been allowed to be as high as they were at the time which should have reduced the need for any of these call-back services.
 

Geoff.D

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#3
If ICASA and the Department of Communications had been regulating the market properly, call rates would never have been allowed to be as high as they were at the time which should have reduced the need for any of these call-back services.
Has absolutely nothing to do with this debate. There has always been a need for a "Call-back", "Reverse Charge" facility since the telephone was invented. the only thing that changes from technology to technology is how to implement the service. And there have been dozens of variations with different names over the years, all with small twists, but the basic idea has never been changed. The Calling Party wants the Called Party to pay for the call.

So trying place this matter in the laps of the regulator is completely off-base.
 

Pixual

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#4
There is a lot of political "egg-on-face" that resulted from this saga. I wonder how long it will take for Rembrandt Group to be labelled as the guilty party and liable for "crimes against black people"?
 

marine1

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#6
If ICASA and the Department of Communications had been regulating the market properly, call rates would never have been allowed to be as high as they were at the time which should have reduced the need for any of these call-back services.
Money / bribes
 

myself123

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#7
Bull if i ask me vodacom introduced PCM way before MTN and thank God that guy has paperwork to prove all of this skeeming by these undermining companies. why didn't this information popped up in the beginning?
 

Jola

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#8
Bull if i ask me vodacom introduced PCM way before MTN and thank God that guy has paperwork to prove all of this skeeming by these undermining companies. why didn't this information popped up in the beginning?
That information was always there, MTN patented Call Me before Vodacom did anything.

But MTN weren't the first, anyway, that concept has existed for probably 50 years, since reverse charge phone calls started.
 

RedViking

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#9
I still don't understand why Vodacom stated that Makate was the man behind the idea. Were they using him as an excuse at the time so they don't have to give credit to MTN?

Vodacom has launched a new product called ‘Call Me’, thanks to Kenneth Makate from our finance department. Kenneth suggested the service to the product development team, which immediately took up the idea. ‘Call Me’ is a world first and allows Vodago prepaid users to send a free text message to other Vodacom customers requesting that they call them back. The main aim of this product is to allow Vodacom users who do not have balances on their accounts to keep in touch with their families and loved ones.
 

Jola

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#10
I still don't understand why Vodacom stated that Makate was the man behind the idea. Were they using him as an excuse at the time so they don't have to give credit to MTN?
Probably worried about being sued by MTN. But MTN didn't do that, because they knew that it was prior art (reverse charges, etc, etc), and that their patent probably wouldn't stand up to scrutiny.
 

Geoff.D

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#12
I still don't understand why Vodacom stated that Makate was the man behind the idea. Were they using him as an excuse at the time so they don't have to give credit to MTN?
I have a possible answer. This is what happens when people are placed in positions of authority in an organisation, who don't have the background to be in those positions make statements without understanding the implications. It comes from promoting wet behind the ears people BEFORE they have proved themselves and who do not have the background required to be fully effective in an organisation .......
At best, Makate alerted VC to the need for a method to handle call-back and reverse charges in the company, and for that he deserved to be awarded in line with the policies governing such things, but to say he invented anything is absolutely absurd, as he did not and could as he did not have the technical background to work out how it should be done.
So, VC screwed up all the way, and when their representatives giving evidence at the ConCourt trial, screwed up, the writing was on the wall....
 

Lucas Buck

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#13
Now I'm confused.
Vodacom recently admitted that the Please Call Me was invented and subsequently patented by MTN and Ari Kahn before Makate came up with the idea.
In November 2000, Kahn conceived the Call Me idea and briefed patent attorneys to prepare a patent application for filing.
Kahn patented his idea on the 22nd January 2001. If Geisler stated on the 9th February 2001 that Makate came up with the idea a few months ago. Then how could Mtn have patented the idea before Makate forwarded Geisler his please call me idea, and how could it have been patented before Vodacom started working on testing the viability of the product.
I don't see anything in that timeline to suggest that mtns idea was patented before Makate had discussions with his superiors.

...Mr Geissler’s email contradicted his earlier email of 9 February 2001 which was addressed to staff at Vodacom, informing them about the launch of the “Please Call Me” product. That email reads:
“Dear All Vodacom Staff, Vodacom is launching a new product this weekend (Sunday Times) which will hopefully stimulate all traffic on the network as well as assist some of our subscribers who do not have balances on their Vodago accounts to be able to communicate with friends and family. This service is free until the end of the year and then will go to 15c per transaction. Kenneth Makate from our Finance Department came up with this idea a few months ago and brought it to the Product Development Division. We wish to thank Kenneth for bringing his idea to our...http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZACC/2016/13.html
 
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Jola

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#14
Now I'm confused.

Kahn patented his idea on the 22nd January 2001. If Geisler stated on the 9th February 2001 that Makate came up with the idea a few months ago. Then how could Mtn have patented the idea before Makate forwarded Geisler the please call me idea and how could it have been patented before Vodacom started working on testing the viability of the product.
Vodacom and MTN had nothing to do with each other.

MTN came up with the idea sometime in 2000 (ask Kahn), and eventually patented it in January 2001, it usually takes a while before a concept is patented.

Makate mentioned his idea toward the end of 2000 (according to Geisler), but it seems that was well after MTN developed their concept, which MTN then patented before Vodacom did anything.

MTN never enforced their patent against Vodacom, because they probably knew that it wasn't an original idea, and was a concept that had been around for decades (eg Reverse Charges calls).

The idea wasn't new but the implementation was something that had to be developed, and Makate had nothing to do with that. MTN and Vodacom developed their own implementations.

Effectively, Makate did nothing, but some ignoramus at Vodacom promised him some money, and this blew up in Vodacom's faces, I don't think that they ever imagined huge payouts for Makate's limited contribution, they probably envisaged a few thousand rand.
 

Arthur

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#15
I've never used PCM so may be speaking from sheer ignorance ... I don't understand why PCM is being called a "reverse charges" idea. Isn't it simply a message sent to another party asking them to call at their cost? In other words, the calling party is still paying - there is no reverse charge because the party initiating the voice call session is paying. Yes, they may well be calling in response to a message, but that message is not itself a call. I presume the PCM message had the sender's number embedded.
 

Lucas Buck

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#16
Vodacom recently admitted that the Please Call Me was invented and subsequently patented by MTN and Ari Kahn before Makate came up with the idea.
The reason I brought up mtn was because on the above quote from the article. Based on the timeline of events I can't see how Vodacom can say that it was patented before Makate had discussions with Geisler.

Edit: Just remembered this from the other thread, so maybe...
In an e-mail of February 6, 2001, Geissler promised Makate he would consult with Knott-Craig about negotiating with Makate once the Please Call Me idea had been tested for technical and commercial viability.
I wonder if we will ever get the truth out of Geissler or Allan Not Craig


Vodacom and MTN had nothing to do with each other.
This I agree with and I've mentioned in the other thread that mtns patent has nothing to do with this case. Yet people always seem to bring it up as if Makate shouldn't get paid because Mtn had a patent on a similar product.

some ignoramuses at Vodacom promised him some money, and this blew up in Vodacom's faces
This^. They could have informed him at any point that they weren't going to pay him but they rather used his as a good example to other staff, while totally ignoring promises made.
 
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Jola

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#17
I've never used PCM so may be speaking from sheer ignorance ... I don't understand why PCM is being called a "reverse charges" idea. Isn't it simply a message sent to another party asking them to call at their cost? In other words, the calling party is still paying - there is no reverse charge because the party initiating the voice call session is paying. Yes, they may well be calling in response to a message, but that message is not itself a call. I presume the PCM message had the sender's number embedded.
Have you forgotten how reverse charges worked, exactly the same.

A call initiator, via an operator, contacted the paying party with a message asking if they were prepared to pay for a voice call to the call initiator. If they agreed to pay they would then be put through to the call initiator.

I regard it as exactly the same, except that the message is not communicated by an operator.
 

ponder

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#18
Has absolutely nothing to do with this debate. There has always been a need for a "Call-back", "Reverse Charge" facility since the telephone was invented. the only thing that changes from technology to technology is how to implement the service. And there have been dozens of variations with different names over the years, all with small twists, but the basic idea has never been changed. The Calling Party wants the Called Party to pay for the call.

So trying place this matter in the laps of the regulator is completely off-base.
Yip in 19 voetsek with the old P&T you could call an operator and do a reverse charge call if the other party accepted. This even worked internationally.
 

Jola

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#19
This I agree with and I've mentioned in the other thread that mtns patent has nothing to do with this case. Yet people always seem to bring it up as if Makate shouldn't get paid because Mtn had a patent on a similar product.
Well, if MTN has a public patent on a concept then it isn't possible for anyone else to invent that concept. So yes, it is very important, and is a good reason why Makate shouldn't get paid.
 

Arthur

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#20
Have you forgotten how reverse charges worked, exactly the same.

A call initiator, via an operator contacted the paying party with a message asking if they were prepared to pay for a voice call to the call initiator. If they agreed to pay they would then be put through to the call initiator.

I regard it as exactly the same, except that the message is not communicated by an operator.
Except it's not the same.

In the traditional landline reverse charge system the caller initiates a no-charge voice call to an operator at the PSTN. Without terminating the voice call session, the operator calls the intended called-party and asks whether they are prepared to accept the call charges. If they agree, the two parties are connected and the charges are carried by the party called, all within the same single voice session.

This is not what happens with PCM.

As I understand it, there is no prior voice session and thus no reverse charge. There is only a single voice session initiated by the person who received a PCM message. They are invoiced in exactly the same way as any other call.

The fact that the PCM is sent electronically is technically incidental and contractually irrelevant. There is no reverse charge.

In my view, the reverse-charge argument / analogy is mistaken and a red herring.
 
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