In a landmark verdict that could have further consequences for corporate South Africa, The Constitutional Court this morning ruled that Vodacom must compensate Nkosana Makate for helping it develop its “Please Call Me” SMS service.
The verdict today follows more than a decade of litigation between Vocacom and Makate, who says he came up with the idea of the “Please Call Me” SMS in 2000.
According to a summary of the Constitutional Court ruling, Makate approached Vodacom’s director and head of product development at the time, Philip Geissler with the concept and the pair reached an oral agreement that the cell phone giant would experiment with it.
“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 Geissler. Vodacom implemented the idea in March 2001,” the Constitutional Court says. “Given Mr Geissler’s position at Vodacom, the organisational structure within which he exercised his power; and his role in the process which had to be followed before a new product could be introduced at Vodacom, the judgment held that Mr Geissler had ostensible authority to bind Vodacom,”
In an interview with Moneyweb last year, Makate said that the “Please Call Me” facility had generated about R70-billion for Vodacom and that he wanted a 15% share of that. The Court has granted Vodacom leave to appeal.