Vodacom may be forced to pay Ksh45 billion to its former employee Kenneth Makate who is believed to be the mastermind behind the famous flashback message ‘please call me’.
Mr Makate went to court over the issue and won the case over copyright of the service but he is yet to be paid a penny following the final agreement.
According to a local daily, talks between Makate and Vodacom lawyers hit a snag over the payment, forcing the company CEO Shaamel Joosub to take over the talks.
Makate is said to have come up with the idea in 2000 out of a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend.
To him, making calls was expensive for her and that is when he thought of coming up with a way through which she could alert him to call her.
The service has since become popular in Kenya, under Safaricom, which is 35 per cent owned by Vodacom.
South Africa’s Justice Chris Jafta did not grant Makate’s request for Ksh45 billion but ordered that he should enter discussions with the firm and agree on reasonable compensation.
“If it proved commercially viable, Mr Makate would be paid a share of proceeds from the product subject to terms to be negotiated between him and Mr (Philip) Geissler (head of product development at Vodacom). Vodacom implemented the idea in March 2001,” the judge ruled.
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