Court orders huge payout for Vodacom’s ‘Please Call Me’ inventor

The High Court has ruled that Vodacom’s “Please Call Me” inventor, Nkosana Makate, is entitled to 5% of the total voice revenue generated from the micro-text service from March 2001 to March 2021.

 

The amount could be much higher than the R47 million previously offered by the giant mobile phone operator following a 2019 Constitutional Court ruling. Makate, who described the Monday judgment as a “big relief” – had rejected the R47 million settlement and sought a court review.

 

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria also ordered that Makate is entitled to 27% of the revenue generated by the return of calls sent through the Please Call Me platform. Judge Wendy Hughes ordered the CEO of Vodacom, Shameel Joosub, to finalise the determination within a month of this order.

 

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.

Makate had in previous court hearings stated that the Please Call Me system, which he invented while employed by Vodacom, had earned the company about R70 billion in revenue.

The Please Call Me service, which was launched in February 2001, allowed Vodacom subscribers to send a ‘Please Call Me’ text message free of charge to another user on the same network.

 

Makate and Vodacom have been involved in the protracted court battle over payment for the concept since 2008.