Nigerian firm demands $20m from OLPC
Non-profit org slapped with infringement suit
Lagos Analysis Corporation (Lancor) is continuing its legal attack against the One Laptop Per Child foundation. Lancor is demanding $20m in damages against OLPC through the Nigerian court and has obtained a temporary injunction banning the non-profit from selling its XO laptops in the country.
The Nigerian-owned, Massachusetts-based firm says its flagship multilingual keyboard was illegally reverse-engineered by OLPC.
Lancor's legal filings claim evidence of infringement was discovered on a public issue tracking service used by OLPC developers. The company does not specify the offending ticket — although an addition one year ago cites "Shina" from Leapsoft Technology, a Nigerian software vendor, as supplying OLPC with a keymap for Nigerian languages. Leapsoft, along with the companies Growing Business Foundation and Alteq, were also recipients of Lancor's original cease and desist complaint.
Court documents obtained by Groklaw indicate Lancor filed a Motion of Notice in the federal high court in Lagos, seeking an injunction until a hearing is established. OLPC didn't show up at court, and the block was granted.
Lancor said it will pursue similar lawsuits in other countries where XO laptops are being sold. Currently no other complaints have been filed.
According to The Boston Globe, the founder of Lancor, Ade Oyegbola was convicted of bank fraud in Boston in 1990 and served a year in prison.
This week, OLPC lost its chief technology officer, Mary Lou Jepson, who quit the organization to start a company which will commercialize technology she invented while working at OLPC. Jepson designed the display technology for the low-cost laptop. ®
Nigeria, you say
A totally unnecessary waste of legal effort and $$$'s. Let the kids have the PC's and get on w/ life
MONEY FOR YOU
DEAR OLPC (SIR),
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT REAL NIGERIAN KEYBOARDS DO NOT HAVE LOWER-CASE MODALITIES.
IF YOU DO DECIDE TO SETTLE THE LAWSUIT WITH A PAYMENT TO LANCOR, DON'T SEND IT BY WESTERN UNION. ALSO, IF YOU RECEIVE A PAYMENT FROM LANCOR, WAIT AT LEAST 60 DAYS FOR THE CHEQUE TO CLEAR.
YOURS IN GOD,
M$ would be very scared of all those potential Vista users growing up on a charitable laptop running Linux not M$. These poor people may then never be customers of M$ and as desperate as M$ would be to kill the OLPC, it would not want to do it publicly in a way put could diminish it's 'reputation'. Sounds to me that this is the work 'special ops' unit of M$ lawyer army. No doubt 'special ops' is providing covert support to the Nigerians in how to defeat these threats to 'computer freedom' and future potential revenue streams.
re:Let them know what you think of them
The reply I got.....
from LANCOR <Info@lancorltd.com>
subject RE: Patent Troll Blocks Distribution of Free Laptops to Poor Nigerian Children
We can feel your passion, but again your anger is misdirected... don’t believe everything you read online.
We are sure OLPC has very capable lawyers that will make their case for them in court and not in the media or online blog.
Further, we are sure that the rule of law will be upheld “even in the Nigerian Court.”
These things don’t always seem the same when the facts are actually sorted out in Court.
Again thanks for your mail, just sit back and let the lawyers sort it out.
re:Let them know what you think of them
I sent the following to all the contacts I could find for Lancors clients:[email addresses excised by Reg moderator.]
date 4 Jan 2008 19:53
subject Patent Troll Blocks Distribution of Free Laptops to Poor Nigerian Children
Are you happy to do business with this creeps?
I got this responce:
We thank you for your mail.
We are a little miffed at your message, but then we guess in your neck of the woods, wherever that may be, it is OK to steal your neighbor’s property as long as you are donating the stolen property to “Poor Nigerian Children”
To which I responded with a view of the comments from here:
to LANCOR <Info@lancorltd.com>[Email addresses excised.]
date 4 Jan 2008 20:47
subject Re: Patent Troll Blocks Distribution of Free Laptops to Poor Nigerian Children
Do you really have a case, I think not...
The differences were more evident than the similarities once you got beyond the fact that they are both keyboards. It also had the text of the suit, and basically, it looked to *all* the commenters like they were:
a) claiming similarities in the most general of terms that *even so* were tenuous
b) claiming infringement of features which LANCOR did not invent.
Not everyone thinks that charity means stealing is okay; if you could get a free laptop, why would you buy one? But even then, once the OLPC scheme has raised the computer literacy of LANCOR's target market, that market will be a boom one for them. An enlightened (or even canny, presuming they really do want to make money out of regionalised keyboards) corp would grant OLPC a free licence and make a big song and dance about it for free publicity.
OLPC is not the only PC sold in Nigeria. What keymaps other PCs use and why for example Windows 2003 is not slapped with the same lawsuit?