Clean Street entrepreneur accused of playing dirty
Adesh Naidoo, who has won awards for an idea he says he got from Smartstreets’ product, says the London company’s claim against him has no legal basis
Durban entrepreneur Adesh Naidoo has defended his award winning product against allegations by a London company of intellectual property, saying the claim has is no legal basis.
The London company, Smartstreets Ltd, said it had invented the Smartstreets-Smartbin and patented it in the UK in 2006.
The bin is for chewing gum and cigarette butts, and doubles as advertising space.
In 2012 Naidoo’s Clean Street eco-bin — which looks similar to the Smartstreets-Smartbin and serves the same purpose — netted its owner R50,000 in cash and R600,000 in business support at the Small Enterprise Development Agency awards.
Naidoo has since entered other awards including the Green City Start Up Award run by Resolution Circle, a company that commercialises technology and develops engineering skills.
Smartstreets took issue with this, saying Naidoo should not have been allowed to participate in any competitions after the company alerted organisers to the dispute in June this year.
"It is galling to discover an individual copying our work, claiming it as his own and finding award organisers turning a blind eye when they are presented with evidence of his wrongdoing," Smartstreets MD Andrew Farish said in an e-mail.
Farish said Naidoo had contacted Smartstreets in 2012 after seeing their product on lamp posts around London, saying he wanted to promote and distribute the bins in Africa.
On Wednesday, Naidoo said he got the idea for the smart bin when he saw a similar product in London in 2010, where he was working at the time.
Naidoo said he approached his lawyers for advice when he got to SA, and they gave him the go-ahead to make the Clean Street bin
"There is not a single law that he [Farish] can get me on, he can’t do anything to me, he has tried the legal route [before]," said Naidoo, adding that he didn’t have time to waste over the dispute.
Resolution Circle said parties involved in a dispute should approach the courts to resolve their issues.
"Our competition looks for innovations to be implemented in the City of Johannesburg," Resolution Circle CEO Willem Clarke said.
"If a product or service has been used elsewhere, but the demand for such product or service is not being satisfied in SA (and specifically the City of Johannesburg), this is acceptable in terms of our rules. Clean Street therefore continued as a contestant."