Court orders Vodacom to pay Please Call Me inventor R29 billion

South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal has mandated that Vodacom compensate Kenneth Nkosana Makate with a minimum of R29 billion for his invention of the Please Call Me service, a far higher figure than initially anticipated based on previous estimates.

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The court’s order stipulates that Makate is entitled to receive between R28.99 billion and R55.37 billion, representing 5% to 7.5% of the total revenue generated by the Please Call Me product from March 2001 until the date of the judgment. The ruling specifies that the revenue calculation should be based on Model 9A, 9B, and 9BB, as submitted by Makate.

Models 9B and 9BB provide a straightforward breakdown of compensation based on different revenue share percentages, factoring in various forms of interest. These models are built on assumptions regarding the volume and success rate of Please Call Me messages, average call duration, and revenue per call, resulting in an estimated total call revenue of R194.8 billion over 18 years.

Model 9A, while more complex, assumes a higher revenue share percentage and incorporates additional revenue streams such as advertising and international usage. It arrives at a total Please Call Me revenue of R273.39 billion, with the compensation amounting to 5% of this figure aligning closely with the 7.5% revenue share amounts from Models 9B and 9BB.

This significant ruling marks a decisive victory for Makate in his lengthy legal battle with Vodacom over rightful compensation for his innovative idea.