Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Mobile Money IP infringement claim

A recent IP infringement claim (Read here), made it into the news channels and I had many enquiries because MTN and Standard Bank (both Fundamo clients) was mentioned in the stories. Based on the articles in the media that I have read, the claims refer to a feature that enables a customer to activate and de-activate a credit card by means of an associated mobile phone.

I do not want to comment on the merits of the claim as I have not seen any of the actual documents, but would like to make the following observations:

  • It is important that the law protects intellectual property ownership. Proper mechanisms exist to ensure that this is possible. The law ensures that conflicting parties can defend themselves adequately (ultimately in court). One should allow this process to take its proper flow until conclusion.
  • It is a pity if parties resort to the media (early in the process) to place unfair pressure on other parties. While this is done often, and the media definitely has a role to play, utilisation of the media at the start of litigation should be questioned. Maybe this is a sign of some desperation.
  • IP litigation is a complex and a specialised sector of the law. One usually finds that specific firms and specialists in the area are retained to build and argue a case. I have found it interesting to see that 3MFuture Africa (the claimant in this case) retained the services of retired judge Heath to represent them. Judge Heath has an accomplished career in South Africa and is well-known and respected, but definitely not as an IP expert.
  • The fact that more and more IP claims are being contemplated (also read a previous post), is a further indication that the industry is growing and has reached a certain level of maturity.

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