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Econet being sued for US$870 375 over ‘stealing’ business idea

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So the last time Techzim wrote about being robbed of your ideas by corporates, it sounded far-fetched to some. Well, maybe here’s a classic case of what we meant. I say maybe because as we all know, you are always innocent until proven guilty (on paper that is – quite unfortunate).

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You’ll remember Techzim wrote about Econet’s ConnectedHome service back in 2015 when it was launched. Apparently, part of that concept wasn’t their own, it was stolen. A local businessman by the name Ignatius Munengwa claims that he had approached Econet Wireless (Private) Ltd with a panic button business concept which was incorporated into the initiative without his consent.

A newspaper article, in a Zimbabwean daily print paper called Newsday, the story goes like this; Ignatius, back in October 2011, approached Econet Wireless to collaborate with his firm on the launch of his panic button business concept. His idea seemed to be of interest to the company since they continued to have meetings concerning it and even went ahead to sign NDAs. But prior to that, they had had some oral agreements in which he had provided the corporate (Econet) with a business proposal, financial projection, marketing plan and other detailed information on how the new service would work on the assumption that the deal was coming to fruition; after all, it had been under discussion for quite a long time (to 2014).

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Fast forward to 2015; according to Ignatius, his concept was then implemented by Econet and ‘disguised’ under the connected home service instead of the initially proposed joint implementation where Ignatius was going to get 40% of the proceeds while the rest would belong to Econet. Now Ignatius is suing Econet for US$870 375, a figure derived from the commercial value that the innovation has according to his financial experts.

So far, the matter has been submitted to the courts and Econet Wireless is being represented by Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal Practitioners while Ignatius is being represented by Donsa-Nkomo and Mutangi Legal Practice.

We contacted Econet for a comment but they said they couldn’t comment since the issue was already at the court but once things clear up a bit, we’ll sure have more information on the case.

So, is it too soon to establish that people are indeed being robbed or this is not news???


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15 thoughts on “Econet being sued for US$870 375 over ‘stealing’ business idea

  1. I notice there is a lot of panic button implementations on Google play store, in South Africa, in India and all over the world. This idea is in the public domain.

    1. Yes it might in the public domain now, but back then we he approached Econet with the idea, it might have not been. Considering that Econet had meetings with him and took his documents, meant they saw value in what he was saying and that it was not something prevalent back then. I believe they have a case to answer

    2. The issue is not about being the first to come up with a panic button. The issue is, the idea presented a potential revenue stream that no-one at Econet had thought of at the time. His idea is not ground-breaking, to be honest, but required the cooperation of an MNO as a techinical partner. They dragged their feet with him, then implemented the idea as part of a seperate project.

  2. Yes big corporations do steal or rob ideas. It’s always wise to be cautious when approaching them with an idea.

  3. Maybe its not his money he is using to pay for the lawyers or maybe he have agreed a No win No payment agreement with lawyers.

    Econet Connected Home is a implementation being done all over the world under different names but all the roots are in Internet of Things concepts and ideas.

    The information is on public domain and there are Conventions about it all over the of which l have attended a lot of them.

    Here are some events where infor this guy is saying its his, is freely shared:

    https://www.iotevents.org/

  4. The problem is this guy was selling an ‘idea’ instead of a product. He was hoping to have Econet sign him up as a supplier of the technology which he would then import. Econet probably had other ideas and signed on a different supplier or chose to import to ditectly.

    Like others have already mentioned, this is not a unique idea. Reading IoT books and magazines, you will find a million implementations of this idea.

    Our tech community has to desist from this notion of selling ideas, instead, focus on creating and selling products. If I were at Econet, I would not partner with this lazy guy. He is a chancer on the tech scene. All he wants to do is get paid for importing stuff. There is a lot of technology we can create and sell to big companies, but sadly this is not it

  5. Well was the idea under any form of IPP… Hanti you know kuti ecocash copied impesa because safaricom had not protected impesa .. Saka kana tsano vasina kuprotector idea yavo ma1…

  6. Intellectual Property Protection is the way to go but i still feel for the guy coz having your idea stolen really bruises your heart but then again the business world has absolutely nothing to do with feelings. I hope he wins the case

    1. I will not dispute whether the idea was stolen or not…but he couldn’t protect the idea because it wasn’t a new idea! Econet’s ConnectedHome has been done in so many countries and forms before.

  7. @jojo – you won’t ever hear of that in a damn long time because they are broke and so can’t afford to pay attention!!

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