“Please call me,” you’ve probably seen or received such a message on a number of occasions. However, have you ever thought about who came up with this concept? Years ago, a genius sat down and invented this message which has then been used by Vodacom billions of times and has generated quite a huge amount of money. Nkosana Kenneth Makate, a South African national, is the man behind the invention. He is an accountant working with the South African local government association and is married with three daughters.
Nkosana has been in a legal war with Vodacom over compensation for having invented this for them. There has been a very lengthy battle with the inventor seeking a R10 billion settlement while Vodacom is offering R47 million. The R10 billion amount was reached after the inventor’s team did its comprehensive research. This amount includes interest accrued over the years.
Makate wants five percent of the total revenue, which was determined to be R205 billion by his legal team. This means that Vodacom has generated R205 billion from the message “please call me” since March 2001.
This battle in court has lasted for quite sometime and he is finally ready to concede to what the court will decide. He said there were some projects he wanted to start with the money but as of now he is tired of the constant battle. After all, in his own words, it won’t be the first time he has lost a case in court.
“what I experienced, I don’t think anyone should ever experience. It was hectic because you are dealing with a powerful company , where people are seeking to do things that should not be done,” he said.
This harrowing experience has not only been tiring but it has shown him how those going against a big company face numerous challenges. The constitutional court had ordered him and Vodacom to negotiate a reasonable amount in good faith. Unfortunately, there were no rules guiding this process making it very difficult for Nkosana.
Advice to young inventors
The advice he has for young inventors is that they should believe in their ideas no matter how small they are, especially if the idea helps to solve a problem. He also advices them to take care of themselves so that they don’t end up like him.
“Guard yourself. Make sure all the t’s are crossed and all the i’s are dotted so you don’t find yourself in the position I find myself today,” he said.