Ari Kahn, who created the Call Me technology in 2000, told MyBroadband that Vodacom has in private acknowledged him as the inventor of the service.
To date, Vodacom is yet to say who it thinks invented the Please Call Me, apart from former Vodacom product manager Philip Gielser crediting former employee Nkosana Makate with the idea behind the service.
This is despite the fact that the SA Patent office granted the Call Me patent to Kahn and MTN, and recognized Kahn as the inventor, on 22 January 2001.
Vodacom brand tarnished by Please Call Me case
In April, the Constitutional Court ruled that Vodacom must negotiate with Makate to determine “reasonable compensation” for his Please Call Me idea.
The court slammed former Vodacom executives’ version of how the company’s Please Call Me product started as a “lie”.
“[Alan] Knott-Craig, Vodacom’s CEO, and [Philip] Geissler created a false narrative pertaining to the origin of the idea on which the Please Call Me product was based,” said the Constitutional Court judgment.
Kahn agreed, saying the Vodacom brand has been severely tarnished with all the lies and denial around the case.
“The public rightfully view them as the villain. However, this is for all the wrong reasons,” said Kahn.
“To now glorify their competitor [MTN] and acknowledge another [Kahn] as the inventor of record may be just too much to bear, given that Makate is now perceived as the hero in the court of public opinion,” he said.