Saturday, 26 January 2019

Jury verdict vindicates KT against NCR Corporation in breach of agreement on its Self Serv 90 kiosk


New York: on January 4th, in a Federal Court in the Southern District of New York, an eight-panel jury reached a verdict in the matter between KT Group and NCR Corporation, which all began back in 2013, when the two respective companies entered into an agreement to collaborate on a project referred to as the “London kiosk”, which later became the “Self Serv 90 NCR terminal”.

Details of the case are, in essence, one of greed; greed from a large, established 135-year old corporation who decided it would continue to utilize its partners’ intellectual property, even though it had decided to exclude its partner from the success that was driven by KT Groups’ intellectual property. Without the original 3D CAD detailed designs, this project would not have progressed to international success that comes when a Fortune 500 listed company publicly launches a product. It wouldn’t do so for a mere few hundred units sold.

The case reads like a Hollywood TV series; something straight out of an episode from Suits. The underdog in the series would be KT Group; a small, yet very dynamic limited company that has some very talented individuals, and NCR; the cumbersome but internationally recognized global leader in self-service solutions.  When everything originally began the partnership was sweet. It had all the makings of a great partnership with KT Group appointed to what it does especially well; design and develop a custom self-service concept for a leading business, and in return NCR did what it does especially well; use its size and history to win huge contracts with worldwide retailers. After trials were completed, brands such as Tesco, Sainsbury, OTG, Muji, and Spar to name a few, opted to proceed with mass roll outs.

The case obviously centers around a specific model which is now labelled “Self Serve 90”; a card only self-service checkout kiosk. This unit was born in a development that spanned 12 months, from the initial KT Group sample to the final NCR Self Serve 90 unit. The development took place in the heart of KT Group’s engineering dept. We were the primary resource that received mock ups from the NCR design team and created the unit utilizing our CAD capabilities; investing what we now know was approximately 500 man hours. The Self Serve 90 was no easy creation to realize; it was ultra-compact, with many unique features that made it one of first on market to offer card only checkout services for retailers like Tesco and Sainsbury.

At the heart of the breach that NCR inflicted was the use of KT Group’s 3D CAD detailed designs. Once they terminated our partnership, NCR should have developed its own versions of the 3D CAD detailed designs, but instead continued to base their future productions on the original KT Group files, which breached the mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement. This, however, was much more than just reneging on a piece of paper; it was also a flagrant disregard by a large corporation to simply DO THE RIGHT THING and that is also why KT Group’s management decided it had to act in a manner that is a not normal reflection of our firm, as we prefer to opt for negotiating difficult situations. In the end, we had no other choice to but seek justice in the courts, when all other avenues were exhausted, and the reflection of the jury’s verdict by KT Group’s management was not one of exhilaration or pleasure, but more it was a sense of pride in the justice system and how it upheld KT Group in its accusations, based on the preponderance of evidence in form of testimonies from both the plaintiff and defense, as well as hundreds of documents. All these things assisted the jury in removing any doubt as to which party had acted in bad faith.