Jwambi and Kutumane, two entrepreneurs from Gugulethu in Cape Town, assisted by the South African Litigation Funding Company, on Tuesday issued summons to Nedbank in the Gauteng High Court for allegedly infringing card-blocking software that the two had developed in 2015.
The entrepreneurs were claiming R280million, and possibly billions of rand more in terms of potential loss of income, as other banks wouldn't deal with them because of their patent dispute with Nedbank.
Nedbank said claims that Nedbank “stole” the “Rassfi/Instablock” patent on the “freeze/unfreeze” functionality on the Nedbank Money App were unfounded.
“Nedbank has filed an application with the Court of the Commissioner of Patents to have the patent revoked,” it said.
“Nedbank’s product and services both pre-date and differ technically and functionally from the patented inventions of Jwambi and Kutumane,” the bank said.
The claims by the two entrepreneurs that the bank had created “a legitimate expectation” that any commercial arrangement of any nature would be reached was also refuted.
“At the time that Jwambi and Kutumane presented the “Rassfi/Instablock” idea to the LaunchLab, many local and international technology providers and financial institutions, including Nedbank, had already considered, developed and/or implemented a card-blocking mechanism for clients.
"The mechanism is in no way new technology,” the bank said.
“Nedbank embarked on a technical and legal assessment since October 2018 - when we were approached by Jwambi and Kutumane - and found the ‘Rassfi’ patent invalid due to lack of novelty and inventiveness.
"This was based on various international and South African publications and mobile applications pre-dating the patent.
"In the interest of transparency, Nedbank disclosed a list of 18 prior publications detailing the functionality of ‘Rassfi’ to Jwambi and Kutumane," the bank said.