Nigerian keyboard firm sues One Laptop per Child
No hugs and kisses for XO Laptop
The One Laptop Per Child foundation is being sued over its XO laptop keyboard design by the Nigerian-owned, Massachusetts-based firm, Lagos Analysis Corp.
Lagos claims the non-profit illegally reverse-engineered their software drivers to make the OLPC keypad more accent mark friendly to foreign fingers.
The initial copyright infringement suit has been filed in Nigeria, and the company plans to press further lawsuits in countries where the OLPC laptop is being vended.
Lagos CEO Adé G. Oyegbọla tells El Reg that the company's Konyin Multilingual Keyboard features four shift keys and a software driver specialized to more easily reproduce the uncommon accent marks found in Nigerian languages and dialects. Such diacritic ticks can be unwieldy in traditional keyboards, but are often essential to getting the right message through. (For example, Oyegbọla explains, without the dot below the "o" in Lagos CTO O. Walter Olúwọlé's name, the meaning becomes "God destroys the house).
Oyegbọla claims that Nicholas Negroponte, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who founded the OLPC foundation, purchased two of the company's keyboards in 2006 and used them to reverse-engineer its keyboard technology. Negroponte is also named in the lawsuit.
Although the OLPC keyboard lacks the quartet of shifters found on the Lagos board, Oyegbọla claims the exact functionality of the "shift2" button was mapped to the XO's "alt gr."
OLPC apparently hasn't been served by the papers, and is only responding statement-style:
"One Laptop per Child, a non-profit educational organization, has hear that Lagos Analysis Corp. (LANCOR) has sued OLPC in Nigeria, but OLPC has not seen any legal papers related to the alleged suit at this time," said Robert Fadel, the OLPC Foundation's director of finance and operations. "OLPC has the utmost respect for the rights of intellectual property owners. To OLPC's knowledge, all of the intellectual property used in the XO Laptop is either owned by OLPC or properly licensed. Until we have a copy of the claim and have had time to review it, we will not be commenting further on the matter." ®
This layout goes back way further than the Atari ST, to the European release of the IBM XT if not PC itself. Part of it is virtually identical to the British PC layout. I would be very surprised if a number of keyboard layouts 'historically' used in Nigeria itself were actually identical. Certainly there must have been keyboards featuring similar concepts in the country for decades if computers were used to produce or label anything for shipment to the neighboring French-speaking countries.
Perhaps the Lagos company is 'merely' looking for publicity. I wonder if OLPC ever will see any legal papers from it.
Funniest 419 parody I've seen.
On my standard Windows keyboard layout, I can use AltGr to type some accents not presents in my language: â, ă, å, ą, à, ı, ő, ä, ç, ... suppose Microsoft is coming for their $$$ soon, too.
I can buy a hell of a lot of books, papers, pens, pencils using the same money it costs to buy a laptop. Ask any publisher of educational material and they will gladly eat the added profit margin of educational books for a little good PR.
But then I wouldn't have the chuckle of seeing the press release of some kid in a small hut pedal away in order to generate the electricity he needs to power his laptop. And who wants to miss a self-loving idealistic techie like Negoropante miss out on his Nobel prize.
My point is that the amount of educational supplies you can with $200 in the Third World is far more valuable and useful that a crappy wind-up computer that will get sold for food, stolen or broken. Not to say the educational supplies might not get stolen, as another poster pointed out, but a computer is a far more juicey target.