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LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Monday, December 03 2007 @ 08:35 AM EST

Adé Oyegbola, CEO of LANCOR, the company that says it is suing OLPC, was gracious enough to answer some of the questions I sent to the company and to the attorney representing it in the threatened litigation. I'll present the questions and answers, along with some photographs he sent as attachments, as he presents at least an outline of his case.

Before I share the questions and answers with you, I want to remind you of the allegations in the press release LANCOR released:
The patent infringement lawsuit was filed on November 22nd, 2007 as a result of OLPC's willful infringement of LANCOR's Nigeria Registered Design Patent # RD8489 and illegal reverse engineering of its keyboard driver source codes for use in the XO Laptops.

LANCOR is seeking substantial damages as well as a permanent injunction to prevent OLPC from continuing to unlawfully manufacture, sell, distribute or offer for sale the XO Laptop, and any other products infringing on the RD8489 and using the illegally acquired keyboard driver source codes.

LANCOR is a pioneer in the development of advanced physical multilingual keyboard technology using four shift keys and characters with combining properties to allow for direct access typing of accents, symbols and diacritical marks during regular typing. LANCOR's technology named Shift2 keyboard technology has been used to create a new class of region specific based keyboards called KONYIN Multilingual Keyboards, which are currently on sale globally. (http://www.konyin.com)

LANCOR has retained the law firm of Adedeji & Owotomo a Lagos, Nigeria-based law firm that specializes in intellectual property litigation. Both LANCOR and its legal counsel are extremely confident that LANCOR's case will be successful.

LANCOR's lawsuit alleges that OLPC purchased two KONYIN Multilingual Keyboard models (KONYIN Nigeria Multilingual Keyboard and KONYIN United States Multilingual Keyboard) with the express purpose of illegally reverse engineering the source codes for use in OLPC's XO Laptops. "The willful infringement of our client's intellectual property is so blatant and self-evident in the OLPC's XO Laptops," said Solicitor Ade Adedeji, "we will have no problem establishing the facts of our client's case against OLPC in any court of law."

"LANCOR treats its intellectual property as one of the Company's most important resources," said Adé G. Oyegbola, chief executive officer of LANCOR. "This patent infringement lawsuit is another step in LANCOR's continued protection of its intellectual property. LANCOR will continue to take aggressive steps to protect its intellectual property around the world. LANCOR is also in the process of filing a similar lawsuit against OLPC in a United States Federal Court," Oyegbola, added.

As you can see, while a bit unclear, there are two prongs to the allegation, with two different lawsuits proposed. First, there is the alleged infringement of the design registration patent, which I think personally is going nowhere, for reasons I've already given. However, I'm not a lawyer and I have no experience in Nigerian law, and that is where that lawsuit is filed.

Then there is the second threatened infringement claim, based on alleged reverse engineering of drivers, to be filed in the US under US Copyright Law.

I had many questions, so I began by sending the following email to LANCOR and its attorney, iplawcentral.com, and as you'll see, I was at that point very much in the dark about what the litigation was based on:

Sirs,

I am working on an article about the litigation you have initiated against OLPC and Nicholas Negroponte which will be published in Groklaw, which is a news site covering legal and technical news.

Can you please provide me with a copy of the patent you claim is being infringed by OLPC? Your press release mentioned a Design Patent # RD8489?

I can find no such patent registered in Nigeria or in the US. I do see an industrial design registration in Nigeria, but that isn't the same thing in the US, so can you explain? I also see an application for a patent, but none that has issued. Is it automatic in Nigeria?

I also note that the design registration appears to have been allowed to lapse as of August of last year.

Can you please tell me for the article I am working on what the legal basis is, then, for your litigation? Also, may I please have a copy of the complaint you have filed, along with information on precisely what court it has been filed in?

If not, can you please tell me precisely what relief you are asking for from the court? Will it have implications, do you believe, in Nigeria only or do you foresee it as having international implications, should you prevail?

Thank you very much for any help you can provide,

Pamela Jones
Editor, Groklaw
http://www.groklaw.net

In the interim, I wrote the article with the information I had by then collected, including information on the patent law in Nigeria. I then received the following email, which had four attachments. One was a PDF showing the two keyboards. Then there were three photographs, "OLPC Original keyboard layout", and two labeled OLPC US Model keyboard before C&D and OLPC Nigerian Model keyboard before C&D. I put the graphics on separate pages, because they are too large to include in an article, and I didn't wish to thumbnail them. Here's the email:

Dear Pamela Jones,

We clearly understand your passion about the mission of OLPC, but here is our response to your questions and we hope you will post same to your Groklaw website.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

1. Check the first keyboard layout released with the XO laptop before August 2006. (see attached)

2. Take it from us that OLPC purchased our keyboards on August 7, 2006; (1 Nigeria model and 1 US model) delivery was by UPS on August 8, 2006.

3. Now go to OLPC's http://dev.laptop.org/query and follow the development of OLPC's new set of keyboard layouts and driver. (Take note of the first date this development started.)

4. Check for OLPC's XO keyboard layout used at the CES 2007 show.
http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/30730/145/

http://www.tgdaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id= 18&Itemid=41&slideshow=20070111 [ see attached]

http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/01/10/HN$130laptop_1.html

5. Take it from us that OLPC received a cease and desist letter in August 2007.

6. Now go to OLPC's wiki.laptop.org and again follow the postings of information about their keyboard layout development and key date changes were made. (You can download current OLPC keyboard layout on the website)

7. Now when you have all these info collated, call OLPC and ask why they choose to remove the keyboard layouts used in the CES 2007 XO model after September 2007.

8. See if you can put together all the various versions of OLPC keyboard layouts and match them to events you discovered from their query database.

9. Do note that under Nigerian Law, a RD patent holder has 6 months to pay the renewal fee. So take it from us that the renewal fees were paid within the 6 months allowed. http://www.nigeria-law.org/Patents%20and%20Designs%20Act.htm [see the whole of section 7]

LANCOR

I looked at the pages cited and at the graphics, and I tried to trace the keyboard changes, but I don't honestly see what he means. Perhaps others will be able to. I by then had noticed that Nigerian law regarding both patents and design registrations refer only to commercial and industrial uses. So I sent another question:

PJ: Oh, sorry, one final question: in reading Nigerian patent law, it seems you have no claim against a noncommercial entity. Have I misunderstood?

Here is the response I received, again with no name but the company name, LANCOR, as the sender:

Please don't get us wrong, we have no opinion on the merits of the altruistic objective of getting cheap laptops into the educational system in African countries. It may or may not be the best use of resources at this time, but that is not our call.

As far as we know, OLPC is planning to sell products to Nigerian government, and not give it away for free, albeit, below cost of production.

We are sure OLPC's lawyers will make strong arguments in support of their client, and we will let the lawyers and the courts sort out these kinds of issues.

The facts, the entire facts will be presented by both sides and an objective arbiter will make the calls.

We strongly believe that the Nigerian Federal High Court will uphold the rule of law.

LANCOR

There had been no answer to my question about copyright extension, so I tried again, asking again if they had applied for an extension, and I asked for a name, not just a LANCOR signature, so I would know with whom I was speaking. I received the following reply:

You can cite Adé Oyegbola as the responder.

Our answer is in red below.

PJ: Also, you did not reply to my question regarding the copyright. My best effort to find a current copyright failed. Did you apply for an extension?

(These are legal questions that we differ to our lawyers, we are sure the details will be in court papers at the right time)

PJ: Is the essence of your complaint that they responded to your cease and desist by changing the keyboard design? Or are you claiming that it continues to infringe?

(These are legal questions that we differ to our lawyers, we are sure the details will be in court papers at the right time)

I gather by then the attorney had noticed the conversation and provided the stock reply. I replied:

PJ: Thank you for responding. I think you misunderstand then one thing about OLPC. OLPC is a recognized charity under the law. Selling a laptop for cost does not make them commercial, Ade.

Many of my readers have been asking me, and I hope you do not feel insulted if I ask on their behalf, but is there any connection or have you had any contact with Microsoft or Intel?

[No answer to date]

You might find this article from a year ago about his keyboard of interest, as it explains exactly how it works and why one might want such a keyboard.

Why, though, would LANCOR wish to sue for copyright infringement in the US and not in Nigeria? Nigeria's copyright law only allows a copyright for the following types of works:

(a) literary works;
(b) musical works;
(c) artistic works;
(d) cinematograph works;
(e) sound recording; and
(f) broadcasts.

I don't know if Nigeria considers source code a literary work. But the allegation isn't that OLPC saw their source code and copied it. It's that they reversed engineered. We don't even know if that's factually so, but while it seems inappropriate to explain much about copyright law at this juncture, I'll just point out that reverse engineering is not in and of itself illegal in the US, last I looked, whatever LANCOR may imagine.

The reason for that was expressed by the court in Sega v. Accolade, namely that forbidding reverse engineering would defeat "the fundamental purpose of the Copyright Act -- to encourage the production of original works by protecting the expressive elements of those works while leaving the ideas, facts, and functional concepts in the public domain for others to build on."

I don't think it can be argued that the timing of this litigation is suspicious. If it's Son of SCO time, and the only goal is to cast a cloud over OLPC while Classmates and Microsoft Brand X little laptops take over the third world, then it makes perfect sense to file a copyright action in the US. They take forever to resolve, if you want them to, as SCO proved. And if no one cares if they lose in the end, just so long as the cloud doesn't disperse too fast, then it all adds up in a very creepy way. For all I know, this isn't like that at all, and it's just some Lone Ranger litigating entrepreneur who deeply cherishes his "IP" whether he understands the law or not.

But here's the bottom line. Lawsuits don't stop Linux. SCO proved that too. And if the only way to compete with it is bizarre and hopeless litigation, then maybe you don't deserve to win. You think?

P.S. Peru just signed up for 260,000 OLPC laptops.


  


LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC | 189 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: feldegast on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 08:40 AM EST
So they can be fixed

---
IANAL
My posts are ©2004-2007 and released under the Creative Commons License
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0
P.J. has permission for commercial use.

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 08:42 AM EST
"I think you misunderstand then one thing about OLPC."

I am having trouble getting the meaning of this sentence. Is it just me?

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Alan Bell on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 08:47 AM EST
Well I couldn't see a smoking gun in those photographs. He seems to be saying
that OLPC were using a keyboard he objected to at some point, he sent a C&D
notice then the OLPC keyboard changed. Well, isn't that what he wanted?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: Kilz on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 08:53 AM EST
Please make links the clicky kind!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sega Vs. Accolade
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 09:18 AM EST
Hey, there!

It took a moment for me to recall the case. All I remember is what I was
reading in the gaming magazines at the time. So keep in mind memory may have
defused fact, or I may have been completely misled by what they chose to release
and what the mags chose to print. I've certainly learned, to my cost, that what
is now being regarded as the truth in some segments of video game history is
radically different from what is currently accepted. I don't know how some
facts came about -- I can at least point to a collection of video game magazines
going back to 1989. Just warning everyone not to take this as Gospel.

Note: this isn't to say that research is worthless. I consider this more a
depiction of the public stances put forth than a definitive look at the cases.

Okay, this was during the 16 bit revolution, the fourth generation of video game
consoles. Sega had come out with the Genesis, the first true competitor to the
Nintendo Entertainment System. This was bolstered by a court decision that
ended Nintendo's monopoly on games in the US.

(Background: when anyone did a game for the NES in America, part of the
contract granted Nintendo a two year exclusivity window -- the game couldn't
appear on another console in the US during that time. No such clause existed in
Japan, where such a demand would have been suicide. Sega's Mark III and Mega
Drive (Sega Master System and Genesis to you and me) and the PC Engine (the
Turbo Grafx 16) were doing so well there, competition was more balanced.
Nintendo was using its market position to cement its grip. Nintendo Of America
is also based in Washington state. Maybe there's something in the water there.
Anyway, that's why it took forever for us Sega users to get Double Dragon. When
sued, the clause was struck down as illegal. Nintendo's restitution was to give
redeemable coupons to all its current customers to make up for the behavior.
The first title to become multi-platform after the decision was the Genesis
version of Batman, based on the Tim Burton movie.)

So these new systems are coming out and selling. Accolade decides to create
Ballistic software and start porting games to the Genesis. This was relatively
easy, as not only did the Genny run on C, but (from what a developer told me) it
was very similar to coding the Amiga, speeding up conversion time. Accolade
didn't become a licensee, though. They simply reverse engineered the Genny and
released Hardball and Ishido -- The Way Of The Stones. They also created the
first "heavy memory" cart for the Genesis, Star Control.

The reverse engineering thing became an annoyance to companies during the third
generation. The NES was originally just the unit, but later had security
lock-out algorithms included (I am aware of two, but there could be more). Part
of the problem with this is that older titles that were legitimate licensees but
made before the algorithm could be locked out and unable to play on newer units.
And considering how fragile the NES was, you would likely run across it sooner
or later. I remember one indie publisher who was not an official NES licensee
whose games at Wal-Mart carried a warning sticker about it possibly not working
on newer Nintendo units. THAT boosted sales, I'm sure. Another who went the
indie route for a while was Color Dreams, who also included hardware in the
carts to make the NES display more than the stock 16 colors on screen it was
capable of. One success (Micro Machines), lots of mediocre to bad titles, they
eventually threw in the towel and became Wisdom Tree (more on them later).

The Genny, at the time, had no lock out. With Accolade, they decided to do it
(there was also regional encoding, which was supposed to keep games from one
region (North America, Japan, Europe) from playing on other region machines.
There was only one game that actually implemented it, though, the Japanese
Sailor Moon game). Original Genny's with no lock out simply powered up to the
Sega welcoming screen. The new models would start up by displaying "Made
by or under license from Sega Of America".

The lock out was hit and miss. Ishido wouldn't work on the new units. It also
locked out at least two legit titles from EA, maybe three (I recall Zany Golf,
but am unsure of the others). Sega then sued Accolade, but not on the RE
grounds. Because Accolade was not an official licensee, the opening screen
about "Made by or under license" amounted to misrepresentation, since
Accolade's games were not made by Sega or under license from Sega. Accolade
countersued, saying that the new power up screen misrepresented their product,
because their games were not made by or under license from Sega (Accolade was an
official Nintendo licensee, so games like Bubsy were legit on the SNES).

This went on for a while, then suddenly it was reported that the two sides had
kissed and made up. Accolade became an official licensee, and all lawsuits were
dropped. What exactly happened was never reported, and I remember the article
about it making it sound like the reporter was puzzled as well.

The SNES also had a lockout chip that was more effective than the NES one.
Presumably, it was part of the initial design rather than being introduced after
the fact. Color Dreams became Wisdom Tree and started making Bible themed games
for the NES. Nintendo Of America didn't like religious themes in their games.
They even had the ending screen for Castlevania II: Simon's Quest altered on
the grounds of religious overtness (the change in question is removing a
crucifix from the top of Simon Belmont's grave. This didn't offend me, but
amused me, considering how wrapped up in the Christian mythos the whole vampire
thing is). Wisdom Tree never became an official licensee. With the NES being
left behind for the SNES, they tried to make an unofficial game for it, 3D Super
Noah's Ark. They actually used the Doom engine for it. You wandered around the
ark in first person perspective, using your slingshot to fire food at the
animals. When they ate enough, they fell asleep.

I'm not saying anything, I'm just remembering. Rumor had it that id Software
let Wisdom Tree use it because they were unhappy with the SNES versions of their
games. I doubt that very seriously.

So, back to Wisdom Tree. The problem was getting around the lock out. The
solution was to make the game cart with a cart port on top of it. You would
plug a legit Nintendo SNES cart in the top, then plug the whole thing into the
unit. On power up, the Noah's Ark game acted as a passthrough. The lock out
would see a legit Nintendo game and would start executing code. But the stack
pointer would make it start with the code in the Noah's Ark game instead of the
legit game, and Noah's Ark would run.

I would imagine this was legally safer, since you weren't violating the lock out
code. But it did jack up the price of production. Whether it was enough to
offset the benefits of not paying the licensee fees, I don't know (Nintendo's
and Sega's fees were notoriously expensive, Sony with it's first Playstation was
a tiny fraction of that, making it economically attractive to companies). All I
know is it is the only unofficial game for the SNES during the system's heyday.

Not exactly the legal mistake that Atari vs. Phillips Magnavox was over K.C.
Munchkin, but still interesting.

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspick Discussion Here, Please
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 09:24 AM EST
Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

[ Reply to This | # ]

OLPC keyboard development
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 09:43 AM EST
I would guess that if one were not looking at this one issue in a vacuum one
might find that OLPC studied a number of keyboards and made a number of changes.
It may or may not be true that the C&D letter influenced changes, but it
should be noted that it would not be uncommon to have policy changes after
receiving a legal notice to remove even the appearance of non-compliance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 09:47 AM EST
This may be relevant. Nigeria just changed its government. The new Education
Minister canceled the OLPC purchase and stated they would be looking at
alternatives from MS and Intel, citing the reason that other priorities like
seats and uniforms for the children should be provided before things like the
OLPC.

Maybe Wintel wanted to get him a nice new seat in a Cadillac and a nice new
Armani uniform for his new position.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sini plenis piscis
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 09:51 AM EST

If we ignore all the missing evidence and take it from LANCOR that OLPC did something naughty, how exactly does LANCOR suffer? When the children grow up, some of them will use keyboards for their work, and would prefer a keyboard they are familiar with. So OLPC are creating a market for keyboards that allegedly work like LANCOR's.

As far as I can see, OLPC are olfacere violarum and ab hamo.

By the way, the title is a little misleading: LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Responds To Groklaw's Questions About OLPC.

This reminds me of the early days of SCO vs the world, before Darl was gagged.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Seems his only problem is letter positions
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 10:12 AM EST
The early OLPC keyboards appear to have had the "special" characters
on the same keys as the keyboards ordered from this chap's company.

I once did keyboard design, and we copied the positions of the keys for foreign
keyboards from whatever standards were available. I suspect the OLPC guys did
the same, ordering sample keyboards from every country they could find.

Now, if I were making a keyboard for Nigeria, if I couldn't find a written
Nigerian standard keyboard layout, I'd try to copy the existing layout from any
Nigerian keyboards I could find to purchase. It just seems like the natural
thing to do. Making a diffent keyboard layout from what people are already
using doesn't seem like it would benefit anyone.

I'm not sure you can or should be able to get a design patent on a keyboard
layout...where the object is to have them all the same.

[ Reply to This | # ]

One thing to keep in mind...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 10:29 AM EST
If they are filing in Nigeria, all bets are on. Meaning that the flow of
justice is not impervious to the flow of money.

[ Reply to This | # ]

At the risk of potentially highlighting the claimable portion to LANCOR
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 10:36 AM EST
My $0.02

Based on page 6 of the LANCOR design claim (the description), I think the claim
is about the positioning of the third letters for the keys in the keyboard
layout. For example, compare the third letters for key 2,3,4,5,E,S and D on both
KONYIN and OLPC keyboard. They are virtually identical. This can fall into the
jurisdiction of industrial design unless it is simply too obvious. I do not know
enough Nigerian to know whether this is the case. What I can say is if you put
an accented character for 'A' as the third letter for the 'A' key, then it is
too obvious and cannot quality as protectable design. If the layout of these
third letters is protectable, literal rearranging the locations of these third
letters probably might or might not help OLPC, depending on whether the design
is significantly different from the KONYIN keyboard.

Other then that, (1) the display of third (or fourth or fifth) letters on the
key itself and (2)using a combination of pressing two or more keys to activate
the third letter on the key, all have precedence (think European keyboards and
CTRL-ALT-DEL). No offense to Nigerian readers but I do not think any Nigerian
inventor invented this two styles. I strongly believe an American invented (2)
but will think the most likely inventor of (1) is non-American. Moreover, design
rights will had already irrecoverably lapsed for the two.

The keyboard layout (positioning of the key, icons on the keyboard) itself is
sufficiently different say there is no copying of the design.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Educational Goal OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 10:51 AM EST
What was the original educational goal, or is it, the educational outcome for
the OLPC? I thought that at the beginning the issue was (is?) that 50% of the
kids in "raped*" countries didn't get a chance to get schooling.

But all I see on TV, newspapers, photos and so on; is that the OLPC's laptops
are going to kids already enrolled in schools. Kids already in schools don't
need laptops (does every USA kid in elementary school have a laptop?)

*Raped - Countries colonized (one controlled way or another, example by the CIA)
and then stripped of its natural resources, all the while destroying the
"social glue" that any country needs to prosper via genocide,
infanticide, ethnic cleansing, destruction of traditional agriculture, rule by
dictatorships and so on.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Design patents vs. functional patents in musical instruments
Authored by: cjk fossman on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 11:27 AM EST
IANAL

A guitar-building blog that I follow (www.mimf.com) sometimes contains
discussions about reproducing popular factory instruments, i.e. Fender, Gibson,
Paul Reed Smith, Rickenbacker.

Many of these manufacturers have design patents covering instrument features,
typically the shape of certain instrument parts.

Some posts on that blog aver that a design patent cannot be about function. For
example, if the shape of the guitar somehow enhances ability to play the
guitar, it cannot be covered by a design patent. On the other hand, if the
shape makes the guitar recognizable as a certain brand, it can be covered by a
design patent.

Assuming that I understand the between design patents and functional patents, it
would seem that any similarities between the OLPC keyboard and plaintiff's
keyboard are functional in nature. They enhance the user's ability to use
certain extended key codes.

So it would seem that a suit over infringement of a design patent is not
appropriate. At least in my understanding of the situation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nigeria's 510 languages
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 11:45 AM EST
According to Wikipedia and Ethnologue, a catalogue has been made of 510
languages that have native speakers in Nigeria.

Apart from the obvious colonial language, the most important Nigerian languages
may be Hausa, Ibo/Igbo, and Yoruba.

I've noticed a couple of references in Groklaw to "Nigerian", as if
there were a language called that. I hope people were just being jocular.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Legal Response - LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 12:32 PM EST
PJ,

It looks like you got enough into the legalistics of the law suit that they
had to clam up with the stock we believe we will prevail in court response.

Just off the top of my head, the keyboard looked like a VT 220 keyboard.
Obviously with extra multiple key presses to get characters, that's not the
case. Further they are claiming patent infringment, not copyright infringment,
so the case of reverse engineering is, I believe, different.

I'm reminded of the old look and feel case between MS and Apple. I think
one of the things MS did was put the task bar at the bottom of the screen, which
I promptly move back to the top when I get a new Windows or Linux machine.

My personal, private opinion is that OLPC bought a couple of keyboards from
LANCOR, used it as a basis for their keyboard, and LANCOR did not get the big
bucks order they anticipated.

If the patent is on a design, and they change the design, then I don't see a
basis. Regretably OLPC now has to waste money on legal fees.

This demonstrates why there are "purist" software developers that
are so vocal in avoiding anything that could be intrepreted as mis-use of
propriatary code, or the appearence of it, and why there is such an uproar when
anyone claims their "precious IP" is being mis-appropriated!

Just as an off note, now that I think about it, that's an ackward design for
a laptop keyboard, in my opinion. The one I use, has the ten key pad
implemented through the use of a function key, to fit it on the lap smaller
form, and I ignore the keypad with vigor.

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 12:47 PM EST
Sure Peru just signed up for a bunch of laptops but didn't a lot of other
countries also who then welched on their promise to buy? I really wish OLPC
wouldn't announce these laptop signups until they had the money in the bank or
at the very least solid legally binding contracts for the purchase.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ISO/IEC 9995
Authored by: tknarr on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 01:35 PM EST

One possible catch to LANCOR's case is the ISO/IEC 9995 standard which lays out rules and guidelines for keyboard layouts. I don't have copies of the standards, but if both LANCOR and OLPC followed the 9995 guidelines both keyboards could be nigh-identical but LANCOR wouldn't have a case (ISO 9995 dates back to 1994).

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • ISO/IEC 9995 - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 06:08 PM EST
Son of SCO
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 01:40 PM EST
LANCOR sues its own customers too. Whoever it was at OLPC that bought the two
keyboards is probably regretting the bother that resulted.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Son of SCO - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 01:58 PM EST
    • Son of SCO - Authored by: PJ on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 04:26 PM EST
Design principles
Authored by: pscottdv on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 01:55 PM EST
The design principle in all of these keyboards seems to be to put the non-latin
character on the same key that:

1. it most nearly looks like
2. represents a latin letter with a similar sound (S and ß)
3. represents a symbol of the same nature (such as different monetary symbols)
4. is next to the best-matched key if the best-matched key is already assigned a
non-latin character.

Given these principles, any two keyboards for the same set of characters is
going to look pretty similar, are they not?

[ Reply to This | # ]

How it works...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 04:04 PM EST
After a little sleuthing on Google, I discovered a description of how the
keyboard works...this is apparently LANCOR/KONYIN's big claim to fame. A
description is
<a
href="http://www.lexipixel.com/news/it_site_reviews/konyin_keyboard_conquer
s_character_coding.htm">here.</a>

Basically, you hold down the "Ng" shift key, type a letter, and then
type one of the diacritical marks on the keys in the upper right corner. The
keyboard adds the diacritical "accent" to the letter you press, and
presents the resulting combination on the screen.

Apparently, that's the "firmware" that's allegedly been stolen.
That's all well and good, but none of this is referenced in the design patent.
It simply shows a keyboard (without the extra diacritical marks, BTW), with a
few alternate characters on some of the keys.

I developed a similar (but not identical) method for displaying the overstruck
character set of the APL programming language for a Data General intelligent
terminal in the early 80s. I wouldn't say it's a new problem, and I suspect
there's been a program or two written to do the same thing with a standard
keyboard...Chinese keyboards come to mind...where a single character is made up
of a combination of keys containing portions of that desired character.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • How it works... - Authored by: PJ on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 04:20 PM EST
    • How it works... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 04 2007 @ 08:38 AM EST
  • How it works... - Authored by: tknarr on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 04:26 PM EST
  • How it works... - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 04:27 PM EST
  • How it works... - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 05:05 PM EST
  • What's obvious? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 05:30 PM EST
    • What's obvious? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 06:38 PM EST
  • How it works... - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 06:02 PM EST
OLPC most likely bought the keyboards to test compatibility
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 06:16 PM EST
What really bothers me is why OLPC bought two keyboards, a Nigerian layout and
*US* layout. The particular problem I have is the *US* layout one.

Then, on tread someone suggested that OLPC is accused of stealing the firmware.
Make no sense to me there because OLPC has enough talented staffs to write the
firmware for its keyboard from scratch if need be. Failing that, the technique
to access those key could be quickly adapted from existing software by OLPC's
keyboard supplier.

Marrying buying the US layout keyboard with the accusation of reverse
engineering, I think I found a reason why OLPC bought the keyboards: To check
that OLPC can work with those keyboards. This make sense, from web searches,
KONYIN seems to be one of the popular Nigerian keyboards, so it make sense to
make sure OLPC can work with it.

As for accusation of reverse engineering, lets suppose OLPC, before the purchase
of the keyboards, is not understanding the signal when the special keys is
pressed. Lets also suppose OLPC was informed about it, and bought it to sort
this out. In order to do this, they will have to connect the keyboard to some
sort of analyzer, and listen to the signal when the key is pressed. It is
possible this is contrued as reverse-engineering. Of course, anyone with
technical training will know that this is not reverse engineering because I am
listening to the signal that the keyboard is suppose to send. And I believe the
court in US had ruled that listening to those signal is not illegal. This is
important as I am sure the Nigerian courts could/will use as guidance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Keyboards Do NOT look the same to me.
Authored by: mobrien_12 on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 08:22 PM EST
Well if this is their proof, it looks weak to me.

XO keyboard

Patented Design

OLPC using keys 1234567890, ASDECNOP.,./;'[] for the other characters. It is not a 106 key keyboard.

Patented design (which means the design is patented, not the concepts, not the invention)which features "strategic placement" of Nigerian characters uses keys 345ESDBNUIOK. It is a 106 key keyboard.

So there is a very small overlapping set of keys between the two that have secondary chars mapped. Furthermore, although it's hard to tell from the XO photos, I don't think they even used the same secondary chars for that subset. For a design patent, which is decorative by nature, I can see no claim.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think I Finally Understand What LANCORP is on about!
Authored by: TJ on Monday, December 03 2007 @ 11:11 PM EST

If you examine the OLPC Wiki's edit history for the West African (Nigerian) keyboard you can see what Adé Oyegbola is on about. To save you trawling back and forth here it is in a nutshell. Note that where I write "create" I am referring to the Wiki entires - these dates may not correspond to the physical devices.

  1. 2006-08-07 OLPC buy KONYIN keyboards
  2. 2006-11-13 OLPC create Nigerian layout based on KONYIN layout
  3. 2006-11-13 OLPC Nigerian image updated; layout unchanged
  4. 2007-03-02 OLPC image updated to show Beta-3 model; layout unchanged (Original Image March 2nd)
  5. 2007-08-?? LANCORP sends OLPC Cease & Desist Notice
  6. 2007-08-20 OLPC B3 layout revised completely, no longer looks like KONYIN (Revised Image August 20th)
  7. 2007-08-21 OLPC replaces B3 with B4 Ng-MP-Alt layout (more dialect symbols) and new image.

So this boils down to prototype XOs that used the KONYIN layout. I'm not sure how many prototypes were made with the Nigerian keyboard (I'd guess not many more than the 300 used at Galadima primary school, Abuja) but the total quantities were B1: 875, B2: 2,500, B3: 100, B4: 2,000, C1: 300 (see Development Schedule.

Since August 2007 with the C1 (pre-production) the West African (Nigerian) layout has been as you see it on the current Wiki page.

So the crux is that LANCORP are upset over those beta prototypes but the production XOs (and all XOs made since August 2007) have not used the KONYIN layout.

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Ian Al on Tuesday, December 04 2007 @ 04:49 AM EST
Those silly Nigerians don't know as much about litigation as we do. Adé
obviously discussed the pending actions with us until his lawyer said... Well, I
can imagine it was much the same as Darl's lawyers said to him!

So we have just seen the sort of litigation faux pas that businessmen around the
world make all the time. I don't think Adé has done anything disasterous (unlike
a certain American I could mention) and we will have to wait until reports on
the litigation become available to find the actual detail. I think he was trying
to be informative when it was not in his interests.

Anyway, the nice thing is that we have found common ground in the litigation
practices around the world. 'Shut the mouth up until your lawyer asks you to
speak.' I'd like to discuss a few differences between Nigerian patent law and
the equivalent American law, but I cannot and neither, I would suggest, can most
of you. Is there a Nigerian lawyer who is also a Groklawyer who can help us out?
A Nigerian Groklawyer who knows a little about the Nigerian patent system would
be welcome.

Some questions I would like to ask are,

Does a design patent have to specify in writing what protection of design
elements is sought? Elements like use of fonts, colours of key elements, shape
and layout and design details like curves on corners and edges etc.

Under what circumstances can the patent be enforced; when a violating item is
imported, when a violating item is sold, when a violating item is used, when a
violating item is drawn, when a violating item is manufactured etc.

For patents on functional items, what are the rules on prior art in-country and
globally? If a cease and desist order is complied with, can further legal action
be taken?

What are the prior art rules for functional item patents?

And one final question for any Nigerian technologist able to answer, is there a
Nigerian standards body for business and information technology that is
recognised by the government and what standards exist for computer and other
alphabetic keyboards?


---
Regards
Ian Al

Linux: Genuine Advantage

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 04 2007 @ 07:58 AM EST
I sent a rather garbled letter to PJ earlier, and a
clearer and more comprehensive letter to OLPC.

In this I note that as an employee of Micrognosis in
the mid 80's, while in Japan, I observed several keyboards
that used a variety of means to create characters both
by modifier and by introducer keys.

Further, I helped develop on such keyboard, and more over
developed 'keyboard emulators' for other such keyboards.

All of these keyboards had at least two, and often four
modifier (shift) keys. They also had as many a 5 glyphs
on several keycaps (including one on the front).

Thomas Downing
IPC Information Systems, LLLC.

(not logged in)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Oyegbola convicted of bank fraud ..
Authored by: emacsuser on Tuesday, December 04 2007 @ 08:52 AM EST
The founder of Lagos Analysis Corp., Ade Oyegbola, was convicted of bank fraud in Boston in 1990 and served a year in prison

[ Reply to This | # ]

Defined design?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 04 2007 @ 11:33 AM EST
Well, here in Brazil we have a standard keyboard called ABNT2. Usually all the
keyboards here follows this standard that was defined by a council (the ABNT
from the name) so it can't be covered by any design patent. Perhaps this is the
same case?

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR's Adé Oyegbola Answers Groklaw's Questions About OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 04 2007 @ 05:50 PM EST
Dear Pamela,

You are correct when you say "For all I know, this isn't like that at all,
and it's just some Lone Ranger litigating entrepreneur who deeply cherishes his
"IP" whether he understands the law or not."

It is a lone entrepreneur and it is not Ade , it is Walter Oluwole ,
co-president of LANCOR. I know him personally. And he apparantly does not
understand the law very well. You will notice his lawyers are from Nigeria. He
tried to get US lawyers but none of them would touch this - probably because
Walter didn't have a case or they did't want to go after Negroponte.

There is no connection to Microsoft or Intel - the reason he probably didn't
reply to your question what just to keep you guessing - that's how he is.


[ Reply to This | # ]

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