As the Black Lives Matter movement has pushed itself into the national conversations, industries around the country have raised a question: what does it take for an African-American to climb an economic ladder? And how the system protects their rights?
Mundi Fomukong, an African American tech inventor from California, has created one of our era’s most widely-used technologies, phone location services. After discussing communication issues with a friend who was frequently traveling for business, Fomukong, who holds an aviation electronics degree from Cranfield College of Aeronautics in England, has developed a location reporting paging communication system and merged it with mobile devices.
After registering patents for his invention in the United States, Europe, Canada, China, Japan, and Singapore for his inventions, Mundi and his company, Enovsys LLC, still faced injustice. One of the largest telecommunication companies in the U.S., Sprint Nextel Corporation, which T-Mobile has recently purchased, violated licensing rights. In a 2010 U.S. case between Enovsys and Sprint, the courts mandated Sprint to properly license Enovsys’ patent after losing in trial and failing to reverse the verdict at the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Today, an African American innovator faces another challenge – Germany’s court system. After Germany’s largest telecommunications company, Deutsche Telekom (DT), infringed Enovsys’s location and privacy technology patent EP 1133827 B1 in 2011, Mundi and his team filed another lawsuit.
To shut down the case, German judges issued meritless rulings in favor of DT and continued to absolve the corporation of its legal responsibility. While reviewing the case docket of an earlier district court proceeding, Judge Retzer of the Higher Regional Court in Munich noted that Judge Peter Guntz dismissed Enovsys’ infringement claim stating that the technology was “not covered by the protection scope of the patent.” However, a later order by the German Supreme Court, presided by Dr. Meier-Beck, confirmed that the invention covered all the patent modalities. Despite the Meier-Beck Supreme Court order rendering Guntz’s non-infringement dismissal idle, Judge Retzer declined to reopen the infringement appeal proceeding.
The most recent verdict issued by the German Supreme Court represents a biased system, in which the highest and final superior court is protecting the illegal actions of a German-based corporation while lacking efficient evidence.
Deutsche Telekom, valued at over 170 billion EUR, has been involved in court proceedings against Fomukong’s small company with limited resources for over nine years. Moreover, as part of a massive expansion into the United States, Deutsche Telekom has recently acquired 43% of T-Mobile USA shares.
As the biggest democracy in Europe, Germany strives to have strong liberal values and opportunities for innovation and growth. However, the country’s legal system has been conspiring with a massive corporation to withhold the rightful fees meant for African American innovators. During the time of mass confusion over the coronavirus and the U.S. focusing on elections, Mundi Fomukong once again faces injustice.
In an interview, Fomukong disappointedly pointed out how the U.S. government has shown great indifference, likely due to the upcoming elections. “Enovsys has reached out several times to patent enforcement officers within the White House, most recently within the last few weeks,” Fomukong said. “But no avail or response.”
In an International Policy Digest article, it is stated that even though the American taxpayers spend billions of dollars on German aid, the American government has not been protecting an American citizen from a massive German entity, which violates the system of values, regulations, and mutually respected laws.
Additionally, several bills, including the Inventor Rights Act, which was meant to protect U.S. inventors’ rights, have been left pending without movement, leaving numerous investors defenseless against large corporations like Deutsche Telekom, which violate paying licensing fees to patentees.
America is a country of innovators and inventors, united by freedom of creativity and expression. Today, every industry, including telecommunications and technology, is on the edge of innovation, inclusivity, and equality. Mundi Fomukong, an African American innovator who created the phone location services which are used in each and every phone today, demands justice and respect while facing systematic obstacles and bias.
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