In late March Reunert announced that it had instituted proceedings against John Holdsworth, seeking to enforce contractual restraint of trade and confidentiality undertakings given by Holdsworth in favour of Reunert. This followed Reunert’s acquisition of the ECN Telecommunications business in June last year.
“The undertakings are contained in Mr Holdsworth`s contract of employment and in the termination agreement entered into between Mr Holdsworth and Reunert when he left Reunert`s employment in November 2011,” Reunert said.
The group told BusinessTech that it intends to pursue the matter, with a court date provisionally set for April 17.
Holdsworth is fighting Reunert, and explained that Nashua ECN operates in the fixed line market, whilst AppChat intends to operate in the mobile market.
Holdsworth today said that they are still in the process of finalizing their answering affidavit, bemoaning the fact that they were not given enough time for a proper response.
“We were only given only 4 court days after filing a notice to oppose to deliver our answering affidavit,” said Holdsworth. “That short period of 4 court days is wholly unreasonable and entirely inadequate having regard to the history of the matter, the voluminous nature of the papers.”
Holdsworth explained that Reunert’s founding affidavit is 309 pages long and that they spent more than a month putting it together.
“There really was no opportunity to deal meaningfully with the papers between the time they were served and 30 March 2012 when the notice to oppose was to be filed and we are clearly severely prejudiced in this regard,” said Holdsworth.
Holdsworth said that both Reunert and AppChat’s legal representatives have agreed to meet with the Deputy Judge President (subject to his direction) on Tuesday to determine the timetable for the further conduct of the matter.
“At the end of the day it’s really an abuse of the legal process, but given Reunert’s conduct in the matter so far, it really doesn’t surprise me,” said Holdsworth.
Reunert trying to shut AppChat down
Reunert’s claim that AppChat is establishing a business in competition with Nashua ECN is transparent nonsense, said Holdsworth.
“The fixed voice market is an entirely separate and different market from the mobile voice market. Nashua ECN is a fixed line operator and trades exclusively in the fixed voice market. AppChat is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and trades exclusively in the mobile services market,” explained Holdsworth.
The AppChat CEO said that “Reunert is a large listed company and is simply conducting itself as the proverbial corporate bullyboy, using ECN, a fixed line operator, as a proxy for one of its other companies, Nashua Mobile, in order to stifle future competition in the mobile market”.
“Apart from the fact that Nashua ECN’s entire technical platform is open source and can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet, there is not a shred of the Reunert information, let alone proprietary or confidential information, which is of any use to AppChat whatsoever.”
“The product is different. The technology is different. The market is different. Customers are different. It is quite simply chalk and cheese,” argues Holdsworth.
“Reunert’s strategy is to shut AppChat down and place all 15 of its staff and their families on the street,” the AppChat CEO said.
“We will defend ourselves and are not intimidated by their anticompetitive bully boy tactics. AppChat stands for enterprise and innovation, job creation and opportunity and most important of all robust competition and consumer choice in a market which desperately needs it,” said Holdsworth.
“The public has already seen through Reunert’s strategy and it won’t be long before the courts do too,” Holdsworth concluded.