* MTN, Standard Bank face patent claim
* Inventor files claim for up to 1 bln rand
(Recasts, adds company comments)
JOHANNESBURG, April 9 (Reuters) - 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 patented.
“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 under consideration.
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. ($1=7.334 Rand) (Reporting by Serena Chaudhry; editing by David Dolan and Editing by Sharon Lindores)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.