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Econet sued for $870,000 over 'stolen' business concept

by Staff reporter
18 Sep 2017 at 06:09hrs | Views
LOCAL businessman, Ignatius Munengwa, has sued, Econet Wireless (Private) Ltd demanding $870 375 damages for alleged theft of his panic button business concept by the mobile telecommunications provider.

Munengwa last week issued the summons through his firm M-Comm Africa (Private) Ltd, and Econet Wireless is yet to enter an appearance to defend notice.

In his declaration, Munengwa said sometime in 2011, he conceived an innovative service whereby mobile phone subscribers would use their phones as a panic button in the event of a security breach.

Munengwa said the service would link mobile phone subscribers to a security firm of their choice and create a direct link to help through the use of a panic alert from their mobile numbers on their phone in the event of any danger.

On October 18, 2011, the businessman said he then approached Econet Wireless to collaborate with his firm on the launch of his innovative service whereupon he exchanged emails with Econet's high-ranking officials namely Fungayi Mandivheyi, Francis Mwale and Darlington Mandivenga.

"The parties [Munengwa and Econet top brass] reached an oral agreement in terms of which the plaintiff [Munengwa] would disclose the full details of the panic button service to the defendant [Econet Wireless] and in the event that the project was implemented jointly, the parties would share the proceeds on a 60:40 ratio, with defendant getting 60% and the plaintiff getting 40% of the proceeds. Francis Mwale represented defendant at the material time," Munengwa said through his lawyers Donsa-Nkomo and Mutangi Legal Practice.

The businessman said pursuant to the oral agreement, Econet requested for a business proposal, financial projection, marketing plan and other detailed information on how the new service would work, which information Munengwa is said to have disclosed, apparently, with the assumption that the deal had sailed through.

"… the parties later were in discussion from 2012 to 2014 and a lot of plaintiff's proprietary information was disclosed to defendant. In breach of the oral agreement to jointly work on the project, the defendant proceeded to launch its connected home service, incorporating the panic button service in 2015 without the consent or authority of the plaintiff," he said.

Further and alternatively, Munengwa said Mwale and Mandivenga allegedly induced him to disclose the full scope and functionality of his innovation by sending him Econet's standard non-disclosure agreement for signature and submission on the pretext that they would also sign the same.

"Plaintiff acted in the belief that defendant was bound by the non-disclosure agreement and that defendant would not circumvent plaintiff in the implementation of the project. The defendant, after inducing the disclosure by the plaintiff, further misrepresented through its chief commercial officer, Stanley Henning and other high-ranking officers, like Mandivenga, that it was not going to implement the project because it was not within the scope of projects of financial year 2015 and 2016," Munengwa said.

"Defendant then dishonestly and with intent to prejudice the plaintiff went on to incorporate the panic button innovation in its connected home service which it launched in 2015.

"The fraudulent incorporation of plaintiff's innovation in defendant's service caused the plaintiff to suffer
$870 375 financial prejudices because the innovation had a commercial value, and defendant had, through one Brighton from the finance team, accepted the financial projections tendered by plaintiff.

Econet Wireless is represented by Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal Practitioners.

Source - newsday

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