Samart Scratched in Appeal on Phone Card

Mobile phone operator Cam­bo­dia Samart lost its appeal Mon­day against a court ruling giving its biggest competitor, Mobi­Tel, exclusive use to a prepaid billing system involving scratch cards.

Samart General Manager Som­chai Lertwisettheerakul expres­sed disappointment over the ruling, which prevents Sam­art from launching prepaid scratch cards.

Somchai said his company will appeal to the Supreme Court.

MobiTel officials could not be reached for comment.

The court battle over who can use the prepaid scratch card—the first time a local court has ruled on an intellectual property rights issue—­began in July.

The card, which bears a hidden 10-digit code number that customers scratch to reveal and then dial into their phones, was patented with the Industry Ministry by MobiTel in June. Mobitel then asked the Municipal Court for an injunction against Samart, which had been planning to launch its own scratch card.

Samart has argued the card is used in many other countries, so MobiTel should not have been given a patent for it. Somchai said Samart would abide by the Appeals Court ruling.

Samart’s planned prepaid system for its new digital network will be further delayed, he said, but he has “another solution” that will allow him to launch soon. He declined to elaborate.

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