* MTN, Standard Bank face patent claim
* Inventor files claim for up to 1 bln rand
(Recasts, adds company comments)
JOHANNESBURG, April 9 South Africa's telecom
company MTN (MTNJ.J) and Standard Bank (SBKJ.J) face a claim of
up to 1 billion rand ($136.4 million) for infringement of
technology patents in their joint venture MTN Banking.
The head of South African technology company 3MFuture,
Wolfram Reiners, said on Friday that MTN and Standard Bank have
been served with summons to appear in patent court because he
alleges their MTN Banking venture uses technology he has
"We first heard that MTN Banking was doing something similar
back in 2007," he said, adding 3MFuture investigated the matter
with patent lawyers before pursuing the case.
Introduced in 2005, MTN Banking provides money transfers for
customers without bank accounts. Its core product, MobileMoney,
works like a mobile bank account, enabling MTN customers to make
money transfers and payments.
Reiners said he had been in extensive talks with Standard
Bank in 2001 and 2002 about the technology, but had not heard
back from the bank after submitting a formal proposal.
A spokesman for Standard Bank, Africa's biggest lender by
assets, confirmed the bank had received a summons but declined
to comment further.
MTN, Africa's biggest mobile operator by subscribers, also
confirmed it had received a summons and said the matter was
Reiners said he may claim up to 1 billion rand, depending on
the profits and customer numbers MTN Banking had gained from
using the technology.
(Reporting by Serena Chaudhry; editing by David Dolan and
Editing by Sharon Lindores)