Africa's mobile money venture in patenting legal action in South Africa
A patenting legal battle could see two of South Africa's largest companies, MTN and Standard Bank, cough up millions of Rands if found to have infringed the patenting laws of the country.
The legal action follows a claim by a small business, 3MFuture Africa, which has filed legal action against the two businesses, saying the recently launched mobile money transfer venture was based on its patented technology.
The company claims it was involved in creating a system for Standard Bank in 2001, during which it introduced the technology, but which was only registered as a patent in 2003.
The case, which has drawn large attention, especially in the IT world, could also see the new venture - touted one of the best solutions to Africa's credit transfer problems, especially in empowering the rural poor - being halt to a complete stop if the application for the interdict is successful.
Both companies have acknowledged receiving the court summons and had already engaged their lawyers to deal with the matter.
The mobile facility which allows people to transfer money using the mobile phone, even if they are not bank account holders, was seen as one way of empowering Africa's rural poor and ensuring that there is enough access to commercial facilities for the rural communities.