Massive victory for Please Call Me idea-man against Vodacom

Nkosana Makate, who claims he invented Vodacom’s Please Call Me service in 2000, has won his Constitutional Court case against the mobile operator. This is according to several reports.

Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy said: “We are aware of the Constitutional Court ruling and are currently studying its contents.”

Makate was fighting Vodacom in a bid to get additional compensation – as much as R6.75 billion – which he says he was promised by the company.

He filed papers in the Constitutional Court last year after the South Gauteng High Court dismissed his case against Vodacom, with costs.

According to Makate, his boss Philip Geissler promised – in an oral agreement – to facilitate remuneration negotiations with the company.

Vodacom argued that the rights to anything developed or produced by its employees belong to the company. Makete disputed this, arguing the idea fell outside of his normal duties at Vodacom.

Vodacom also said that Geissler did not have the right to promise Makete anything on behalf of the company.

Vodacom argued there is a difference between an idea and a working product. The final product, which uses a USSD and SMS system with advertising, may therefore not be what Makete envisaged.

The High Court dismissed the civil case against Vodacom with costs on 1 July 2014.

Law and constitution writer at Business Day, Franny Rabkin, tweeted that the Constitutional Court has no ground to reverse the factual findings of the High Court.

One of the findings was that Makate has proved existence of an agreement between him and Vodacom.

Rabkin reported that the Constitutional Court said the majority and minority agree that Vodacom is bound by this agreement, and must negotiate in good faith to pay him reasonable compensation.

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Massive victory for Please Call Me idea-man against Vodacom