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News about LANCOR v. OLPC - Updated
Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 11:50 AM EST

I know. You thought I was goofing off partying and drinking in the new year. Not really. I was reading some cynical documents just filed in the LANCOR v. OLPC litigation. Yes, it's begun in a Nigerian court. LANCOR has actually done it. Heaven only knows it makes me want to drink. Guess what the Nigerian keyboard makers want from the One Laptop Per Child charitable organization trying to make the world a better place?

20 million dollars.

I kid you not. $20 million in "damages". And an injunction blocking OLPC from distribution in Nigeria. They have the latter at the moment from an interim injunction, as they call it there, from an ex parte motion LANCOR filed, meaning OLPC wasn't there, didn't get a chance to tell its story in court, and based entirely on an attorney affidavit and some papers filed. The interim can last many, many months, and I think that may be the plan. OLPC, as I understand it, hasn't even been served yet. But I've learned that OLPC will aggressively respond shortly. Others listed as co-defendants, like the Growing Business Foundation, have been served and their offices searched for "evidence", which is the process there. No contraband patented materials were found, however, I'm told. I know. It's ridiculous. But any violation of the order can result in jail time. Nigeria is a hoot. Is this another email scam, I hear you ask? No. It's playing out in real life.

I've already explained why I think LANCOR's case is hopeless. So why do it? Maybe this doomed litigation effort will last just long enough for a Nigerian knockoff of the OLPC, or the OLPC on Intel, to become ready for release. Maybe it's just about money a couple of guys want. Who knows why people do things like this? I have the filings for you, so you can draw your own conclusions. So, here we go. Your first binary moment of 2008. It's laugh or cry.

Now, in SCOland we already have learned that frivolous litigation can last quite a while even in the US -- especially in the US, some of you will sing out -- and we've discerned that sometimes litigation has no legal purpose, but the courts are misused for competitive purposes, to slow down uptake of something better, or just to shake down the opponent in hopes of a settlement. It's sad that there are situations like this that lawyers have to slog through and set right. Which OLPC lawyers will. But there you are.

I'm not versed in Nigerian law, so who knows what can happen there. Here is a hint of what conditions are reported to be like, from the International Herald Tribune:

Nigeria's anti-corruption chief, whose investigations have ensnared some of the country's wealthiest politicians and officials, will be sent to a year-long training course in a remote police academy, according to senior law enforcement officials in Nigeria, in what many analysts and anti-corruption activists say is an attempt to sideline him....

Since the end of military rule in 1999, Nigeria has been struggling to remake its image, which has been seriously dented by corruption. That reputation was cemented for many outsiders by the notorious, fraudulent advance-fee e-mail messages that flood in-boxes across the globe, asking for bank account details in exchange for a cut of loot filched from government coffers.

But to most Nigerians, the most serious form of corruption is the kind that has left Africa's most populous nation one of the poorest countries on earth, even though it exports billions of dollars worth of oil each year: malfeasance by government officials.

Um... you mean... like judges? Government officials? Does that mean they can be bribed? Well. Shiver me timbers. I'm not saying that is what is happening. I don't know. But I do see one can't rule it out as a possibility out of hand.

Anyway, let me show you the documents. Then we can laugh or cry together. Basically, to bring you up to date, what has happened is this, and I must preface my explanation by saying again that I'm not up on Nigerian law, so it's very possible I might not capture every detail, but at least I can give you an overview:

1. August 6, 2007: LANCOR's lawyer, Ade Adedeji, sent a letter [page 1 and page 2] to OLPC's "CEO" (with ccs to the Growing Business Foundation, LeapSoft Ltd. Nigeria, and Alteq) asking for $20 million dollars. The letter reads in part like this:

Our Clients, for a period of 9 years conducted series of research work, engaged in extensive software design work, compiled data and consequently applied for and obtained patented rights for the protection and marketing of their novel Multilingual Keyboard and keyboard Layouts which was commissioned and marketed both in Nigeria and the U.S.

Our Clients have in the circumstances suffered huge economic and financial loss.

We are informed by our Clients and we believe same to be true that following your purchase of their products on or about August 06, 2006, you took information, albeit surreptitiously, and applied their work product for your use and benefit without permission thereby violating the end user license agreement and infringing on their intellectual property rights.


In consequence of your breach/continuous infringement of our Clients' rights we have our Clients instruction to demand and WE HEREBY DEMAND payment in damages in the sum of $20 million (Twenty Million USD).

In addition, we demand an immediate restrain from further infringement and/or breach of said rights.

2. August 31, 2007: OLPC's lawyer politely declined the offer to hand over $20 million ("Twenty Million USD") and instead asked for more information as to exactly how LANCOR's rights were infringed. It's both a serious and a very funny letter [page 1 and page 2]. Here's part of it:

In your letter you allege that OLPC has infringed certain intellectual property rights of your client Lagos Analysis Corporation ("LANCOR"). Your letter lacks any detail as to the purported intellectual property rights that have allegedly been infringed and therefore we have no means of evaluating your claims.

You state that LANCOR has obtained certain "patented rights." Please identify by registration number the patents that you allege to have been infringed.

You state that OLPC has violated an end user license agreement that it entered into with LANCOR. Please provide a copy of such end user license and proof that such end user agreement was in fact executed by OLPC.

I assume that you are not claiming that LANCOR has a monopoly on the creation of multilingual keyboards. Please specify what aspects of LANCOR's multilingual keyboard design you believe to have been infringed.

Finally, although it is premature to engage in discussion of your client's alleged damages, I feel obliged to note that, given the fact that OLPC has to date sold no multilingual keyboards and that, according to LANCOR's website, its multilingual keyboard sells for $19.95, your demand of $20 million is not well founded.

In short, they apparently jumped the gun, sending the dunning letter before OLPC had even shipped anything, not to mention that OLPC is a charity, not a business, and asking for money in a sum that doesn't match reality.

There was no further communication. LANCOR did not send a letter with any further specifics to OLPC or any of the others. Notice that the original letter was also sent to three other entities, Growing Business Foundation, LeapSoft, and Alteq. Who are they and how did they get dragged into this? Because they certainly have been dragged into it. I gather LANCOR had it in mind that they were manufacturing or distributing the laptops. Alteq has since been dropped.

3. Instead of sending proof of infringement to OLPC as had been requested, instead LANCOR went to court and filed a Motion on Notice [page 2; PDFs] on November 22, and it has an affidavit attached from the plaintiffs' attorney on behalf of the plaintiffs, Ade Oyegbola and Walter Oluwole, in support of the motion which describes how they invented a keyboard with extra keys: page 1, page 2, page 3. On November 22nd, there was also a Motion for an Ex Parte Order: page 1, page 2, and page 3.

Significantly, the affidavit attached to the Motion on Notice, I note, does *not* say that OLPC at any time signed any EULA and there is no EULA attached as proof. Instead it just says that this is the "usual practice" for LANCOR. That's what lawyers in the US say when they haven't got a EULA to attach.

Here's the "evidence" that reverse engineering occurred: They saw a website about OLPC's keyboard and development tickets "clearly established" that it happened. The website is if you are curious. Speaking of curious, reverse engineering is something that normally comes up in copyright cases, not patents. So this must be related to the EULA that they have no evidence was ever signed.

Also, on page 3, note that LANCOR's attorney tells the court that LANCOR will pay damages, should the court ultimately find for the defendants instead. So this is an *interim* solution, one that I gather Nigerian law makes it very easy to obtain, to stop any further "damage" until the court can investigate.

The motion asked for an order of interlocutory injunction, essentially blocking any manufacture, selling, distribution or offering for sale in Nigeria any keyboard like LANCOR's KONYIN Nigeria Multilingual Keyboard (or US version) pending a hearing, but if you notice the motion sets no such hearing date. The lines are left blank.

4. On December 3, 2007, LANCOR got the ex parte order, what they call there an Anton Piller Order and Interim Injunction against OLPC, Alteq, and Nicholas Negroponte -- who, if he ever has another brilliant idea to make the world a better place will surely keep it entirely to himself after this repulsive experience. The court order is for an injunction against any sales or distribution on pain of jail time. The Order gives LANCOR authority to serve the Motion on Notice on everybody. Here's the Order: page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5.

5. On December 14, 2007, LANCOR went to search the premises of Growing Business Foundation and LeapSoft, looking for whatever one searches for on such missions, evidence of someone illegally using their keyboards, I suppose.

6. To date, so far as I know, OLPC has not been served, so they are under no legal obligation to obey a court order they never got served with, but my understanding is that they will not wait to be served but will be taking action to get the matter turned around. [ Update: I have just now, Jan. 3, learned that OLPC has received Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim, but no Order.] If the lower court is not amenable to dismissing the matter, it will be appealed, naturally. I find it significant that OLPC was not served. Why?

The Writ, which is like what we in the US call a summons, can be served any time within 12 months, unless it's been renewed within six months of issuance. I think that means that LANCOR, should it be desirous of stretching out the process, will be able to do so. As we have learned from SCO, sometimes just getting the process to drag out long enough can reap certain results, even if you know you can't win in the end. That might explain why OLPC has not yet been served but others were. It's conceivable also that it is just because OLPC is in the US, not Nigeria. Here's the Writ, so you can see what I mean, and it also sets forth what the claims are:

7. On December 17, LANCOR returned to court to report the results of the searches -- the December 3 Order had set the 17th as the date for further proceedings -- and they withdrew their case against Alteq. Alteq, by the way, is Intel's partner in Nigeria through a sister company, I have been told, and they market the Classmate, according to all I can find out. Here are the proceedings from the December 3rd hearing: page 1, page 2, page 3, and page 4.

Remember I pointed out that the "patent" had expired because there was no extension? Lo and behold, there was one presented to the court, allegedly applied for on August 15, 2007 and dated November 21, 2007. But it certainly was not in the file when I wrote about it. And that doesn't even matter, since at the time of the alleged violation of the plaintiffs' holy IP, there was no such issued extension, from all I can determine. I don't know Nigeria, but in the US, that would matter. Here's the document purporting to extend the patent: Certificate of Extension. I note that it says copyright, not patent:

... the copyright is hereby extended for a second period of five years until the 15th day of August, 2012

But did you notice something? It doesn't seem to be the paper that one would have thought the plaintiffs would have earlier received. It's a "Certificate of Extension of Copyright in Design for the Second Period of Five Years" certifying, on November 21, 2007, that on August 15th, 2007, the two plaintiffs paid for an extension of Design No. 8489. Pardon my cynicism. We showed you the original registration in our first article on this mess of pottage, but here it is again: Registration of Design [PDF].

Not to be too cynical or anything, but if by any chance the roadblock of this case miraculously clears up in a few months, around the time the OLPC's with Intel chips are ready to roll into Nigeria, or some Nigerian ripoff of the OLPC is suddenly available for purchase, let's just say my FUD/bogo-litigation meter is going to start to ring off the hook.

Now, Groklaw tries to be fair, and so I will show you now some bits from an article that appeared in The Guardian on December 18th, an article that one of the plaintiffs, Ade Oyegbola, sent me. The article is no longer at the url he sent [], but it gives his side of the story.

[ Update: A reader has found it here.]

The article was titled, "Why We Are Suing One Laptop Per Child Group, By Nigerian Keyboard Inventor":

Oyegbola told The Guardian in an email that in spite of a C and D (Cease and Desist) letter earlier sent to the OLPC to stop distributing its laptop along with a keyboard configured with LANCOR "function technique knowledge", the OLPC ignored the warning.

Reacting to criticisms of his action to the effect that LANCOR's lawsuit was unnecessary since the OLPC had changed its keyboard layout following the C and D letter, Oyegbola said: "The answer is that they changed their keyboard layout but continued to use the keyboard layout and function technique knowledge (our intellectual property and trade secret) illegally obtained by reverse-engineering our driver."

According to him, it has become necessary to make this clarification because of the several hate emails sent to executive officers of the company; and the accusation of deliberately wanting to circumvent the noble objective of the OLPC initiative, which is aimed at putting a laptop in the hands of every poor child in the nation's public schools.

LANCOR's Chief Technology Officer, Walter Oluwole said in an interview: "We're not looking to handicap One Laptop; we're not looking to tarnish them in any way. We don't want to do anything to harm his (Negroponte's) dream, but he went out of his way to kill our dream."

Well, I don't condone hate mail, of course, or worse, but let me ask you something. Does what was said to the Guardian match what you just read in the court filings? Or how about this part?

Asked about the feasibility [of] exploring an out-of-court settlement, Adedeji said: "Usually, before we sue we give the other party opportunity to approach us and try to reach some kind of settlement; it's the best way to go. And we did that. The response we got was such that left us with no other option than to go to court."

In the suit, number FHC/L/CS/ 1102/07, filed on November 22 at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos, before Justice I. N. Auta, LANCOR is seeking certain unspecified - but substantial, according to the company - damages, but mainly to stop OLPC from further infringement on LANCOR's patent by "continuing to unlawfully manufacture, sell, distribute or offer for sale, the XO Laptop, and other products infringing in the RD8489 and using the illegally acquired keyboard driver source codes."

No other option? Unspecified damages? Which is true? What they told the newspaper or what they told the court? And why is there the divergence? What might that tell you? The OLPC letter in response asked for further information, so as to provide some specificity, which was never provided. Specificity always seems to be the problem, doesn't it? The demand for $20 million was specific enough.

So, there you have it. LANCOR doesn't want OLPC in Nigeria. Or only if they get paid. Of course, OLPC will respond. Even if they are not served, I've learned they will be going to court to turn this around. But isn't it sad that they have to? I have my doubts about this design patent, by the way, as I explained, but even if it were totally valid, think about what patents can do, will you? Here we have an entire nation's children being kept from a laptop that they could be benefiting from, and yet it's out of reach for them, because of one company (and maybe some others too) who would like to make some money, honey. Patents have gotten out of hand, I think, when a result like that is even possible.

Update 2: Nigeria's law, the Nigerian Patents and Designs Act, does allow the government some room here:

Use of Patents for service of government agencies

15. Notwithstanding anything in this Act, where a Minister is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so, he may authorise any person to purchase, make, exercise or vend any patented article or invention for the service of a government agency in the Federal Republic.

Update: It seems there is a deeper plot afoot. This article, How Lancor's $20m Suite Stalled OLPC Scheme, in the Nigeria CommunicationsWeek indicates that it is the government that is desirous of this blockage:

The federal government has cancelled the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) scheme initiated by the last administration two years after it became the first country to order and pay for one million of the OLPC.

Dr Aja Nwachukwu, education minister, said that the scheme was discovered to be a "white elephant" project, a conduit pipe to siphon public fund," Nwachukwu said the ministry was working on other options to promote the deployment of ICT at all levels of education.

That might explain how such a spurious lawsuit could survive summary judgment.


News about LANCOR v. OLPC - Updated | 312 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: Erwan on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 11:53 AM EST
If any...


[ Reply to This | # ]

News picks discussions here...
Authored by: Erwan on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 11:54 AM EST
Don't forget to quote the article.


[ Reply to This | # ]

OT, the off topic thread...
Authored by: Erwan on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 11:56 AM EST
Don't forget the preview button if using any of the allowed HTML tags.


[ Reply to This | # ]

News about LANCOR v. OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 12:09 PM EST
Nigeria is the land of two-bit scams. They're just moving up to the big leagues

[ Reply to This | # ]

20 million ...
Authored by: Laomedon on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 12:29 PM EST
Naira Dollars equals $168,776.36 (page 2 of the writ)

Seems the oiginal drafter of the writ had a better grasp of the lawsuit's value. ;)

[ Reply to This | # ]

No worse than SCO in the US
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 12:34 PM EST
PJ you should not be scoffing at the "lawlessness" and
"corruption" of Nigeria here. I see this as no worse than SCO's
groundess lawsuit against IBM and Novell asking for $5B in damages.

Look at all the discover SCO did and the motions for PSJ and conclusion SCO
attempted against IBM's missing sandboxes.

In my eyes the US justice system was used to railroad a bunch of people in just
as much a way as the Nigerian system is being used here.

Also where did the PDF's come from and has anyone dumped the meta-data yet?

[ Reply to This | # ]

So many jokes, so little time...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 12:38 PM EST
but it's not really funny.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Depends. - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 02:46 PM EST
Does anyone know if Darl and his brother have moved to Nigeria? Feels just like home. to him?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 01:03 PM EST
Hmmm, no more comment.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 01:07 PM EST

Sadly, I doubt that it's possible to win a lawsuit in Nigeria without paying bribes. OLPC will have to do that, indirectly through its local counsel, or else settle with LANCOR, or withdraw from doing business in the country. I say indirectly, because it's illegal under the Federal Corrupt Practices Act for a U.S. corporation to bribe foreign officials, even if the transaction takes place outside the United States.

In a survey [, PDF] conducted by the NGO Transparency International in 2006, almost 75% of Nigerians polled described their country's judiciary as "corrupt" or "extremely corrupt." Of those who had contact with the court system, 21% admitted to having paid a bribe.

[ Reply to This | # ]

LANCOR went to search the premises
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 01:16 PM EST
Who exactly searched the premises?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Since they droped action against the Intel part, this is about Mesh Networking vs Intel's WiMAX.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 01:19 PM EST
Delivering the Mobile Internet with WiMAX

Intel HATES Mesh Networking... as they really want everything to go in the
direction of MiMAX instead.

My guess is that if Intel is behind this, it is much less about the AMD
processor, and more about WiMAX winning over Mesh Networking.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OLPC Nigerian/West Africian Keyboard Time-line
Authored by: TJ on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 01:34 PM EST

To understand the OLPC West-African keyboard development time-line you might want to review my comment of 3rd December 2007 entitled "I think I Finally Understand What LANCORP is on about!".

My closing paragraph sums it up: "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 | # ]

Rights of thirds
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 02:24 PM EST
I think in cases like this, it's the correct, to search
any formal mistake what either the other part or any
nigerian judge comit against foreigners, or no-foreigners
and then to throw over them a criminal process in another

According to the Vienna Conveniente of Diplomatic
Relations, foreign officials, judges etc. or nobody else
have no immunity except in cases of a previous expressive
exequatur of such an innunity, and such one nor would be
possible when there are involved violations against
certain international law.

Often processes started in corrupt countries have, for the
initiator and for judges there, the intention of illegal
enrichment. This can be connected with any irregularity
against the International Right when involved any rights
of foreigners.

The sources of International Law are, f.ex. in Art. 38 of
the Statute of the Court of Haia, and they includes a
general, obligatory part, not only contracts.

Worser even, it's Principle of the International Law, that
can only claim peace, state, souvereignity a People who
respect the International Right and its obligations from
it. The OLPC , in the worsest case, can claim that this
condition Nigeria don't fulfill, so that any nigerian
administrative or jurisdictional act would be crime of
constrain and of illegal usurpation/execution of a
function similar to a public one. A treatment of a
state as illegal is not so uncommon; actually continental
China and USA reciprocely don't recognize them and could
detain each the other's officials. Similar it was before
with the Sovjet Union and USA, or with Eastern and Western

In such a case, could be acted also directly against
supporters or financies in USA, Europa etc of that LANCOR,

Beside of irregularities against fundamental and
international law, what processes in corrupt states
normally have plenty, there are several itens which
suggest already the plain illegality of such a process:

a) Third persons are damaged. The participation on the
modernity/tecnical progress , ensign etc. is a human
right, cf. f.ex. Res. 2200A of the UNO. They are in
preference to any comercial interests of others.

b) Patent rights, other than f.ex. copyrights, are
strictly commercial rights. They are aplicavel only
against comercial concorrents. They could not claimed
against, f.ex., the end-users themselves, or against a
gratis distribution -- no matter that then perhaps
commercial interests of the patent-holder are violated.
Here are missing all conditions of this, because the OLPC
isn't selling the computers with profit; much less in
Nigeria; benefied are poor persons which anyway could not
buy laptops from LANCOR - thus absent any damage - etc

At the same time, I think it's necessary to start also
criminal persection against all organizations like M$,
for them advices not to use free software, because these
advices are also directed against public functions,
officials etc of other countries and them right of
souvereignity, auto-determination of the public
administration (creation of open/own programs), ensign
etc. I ask why this wasn't done since long time. We see
that M$ is using all possible methods, inclusive the most
questionable ones, and the population has right of
protection against that

[ Reply to This | # ]

Judge a Cowboy?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 02:50 PM EST
Interesting tidbit about the judge concerning the case of Bashir Dalhatu:

SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/186/2006

The Commission appealed the decision of Justice I. N. Auta of the Federal High Court, Lagos delivered on 12th May, 2006.

Some Grounds of Appeal

The fundamental right which Dalhatu sought to enforce has to do with his arrest, detention and seizure of his International Passport. He Did Not ask the Federal High Court, Lagos to stop the EFCC or the High Court, Lagos (which has concurrent jurisdiction) from arraigning him.

1. However, the Federal High Court to which he applied made an order inconsistent with his application, and restrained another court from arraigning him altogether.

2. The inherent power of the Federal High Court does not extend to stopping criminal proceedings before a court of concurrent jurisdiction.

3. The Federal High Court, Lagos, does not have appellate jurisdiction over the Lagos State High Court.

4. The Federal High Court, Lagos, held correctly that, “The issue before the court is that of the breach of the Fundamental right of the Applicant against unlawful arrest.”

But then, strangely goes on to say:

“From the above facts the court is of the opinion that no reasonable case of any criminal activity has been disclosed against the applicant to warrant the sudden interest in a matter that has been exhaustively investigated by the security agents, and letters of vindication from the highest authorities in the land……… The case from the affidavit evidence before the court and the cases in the Lagos High Court, Court of Appeal and is now pending before the Supreme Court is a case of balance of payment between a lawyer and his client and a third party.”

5. Notwithstanding the finding that the case before it was that of the breach of Dalhatu’s Fundamental rights against unlawful arrest, the Federal High Court, Lagos proceeded to decide the reasonability of the criminal action pending before the High Court of Lagos State.

6. The issue as to whether there is no reasonable case or whether a reasonable criminal activity had been disclosed in the information was never raised by either Dalhatu or the EFCC.

7. The Federal High Court presided over by Honourable Justice I. N. Auta, has no jurisdiction to determine the competence or otherwise of the information pending before the Lagos State High Court in Charge No. ID/34C/2006.

Decision 2
Decision 1

[ Reply to This | # ]

My "DNS" (Do Not Sell) List.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 03:22 PM EST
Before I retired I ran a smallish business. I kept a list of countries where we
would not do business, regardless of the positive nature of the deal.

Nigeria was in the top ten.

There are sound reasons why some undeveloped countries remain undeveloped.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Simple Solution...
Authored by: tangomike on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 04:34 PM EST
... Nigeria is off the list of places where the OLPC is sold or donated. End of

It's not like there's a shortage of recipients elsewhere.

Deja moo - I've heard that bull before.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Biting the hand that feeds you
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 04:36 PM EST
If the Nigerian government wants to screw its own children (by allowing this
lawsuit to proceed), who are we to stop them? This is an issue for the
Nigerians to solve on their own. OLPC shouldn't pay a dime, no matter what some
Nigerian kangaroo court says.

How would LANCOR enforce any judgment? By sending scam email to Negroponte?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corporations filing suit against charities ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 05:24 PM EST
I always wondered what would happen if a corporation filed a patent infringement
suit against a charity. (For what it is worth, I think my employer would either
'donate to' or 'ignore' a charity. Not 'file suit against').

I guess this is where we find out.

I think a fair bit of what keeps UK schools locked to proprietary software,
rather than venturing to open-source software, is the proposition that if anyone
files suit against them in respect of the software, they can hand it off to
whoever sold them the software, and it doesn't distract them from their mission
of delivering education to the pupils.

So it's likely to be Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office for the forseaable
future, to the exclusion of Linux and .

Should schools form a 'copyright defence union', analogous to the 'medical
defence union' that doctors subscribe to ?

Unfair to my children, but that's life.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News about LANCOR v. OLPC
Authored by: tknarr on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 06:47 PM EST

Perhaps it's time to play Nigeria's game by Nigeria's rules. It appears to me that bribery and corruption are standard and accepted practices, and this suit is (in Nigeria) just a normal shake-down of a foreigner by a home-town company wanting it's cut of the pie. OLPC should simply send a response to the court saying essentially "We haven't distributed any OLPCs in Nigeria as yet, so any infringement of Nigerian patents is purely hypothetical. Since LANCOR believes the OLPC infringes it's patents, we have no intention of distributing OLPCs in Nigeria as long as LANCOR objects. We'll be entirely satisfied with an injunction prohibiting that distribution.". Then the UN sends a letter to the Nigerian government noting the patent-infringement problem, and saying in essence "We're immediately suspending all aid that could possibly infringe any patents that might be issued in Nigeria. It will remain suspended until all questions of potential patents have been resolved. The attached C-5 Galaxy aircraft contains summaries of all the aid in question and the technologies involved, to be submitted to your court system for evaluation. We await your reply. Have a nice day.". Then send a nice unofficial note to the head of the Nigerian government saying "We know your game. We're not to shabby at it ourselves. Tell LANCOR to walk away and be satisfied with not getting stuck with the bill."

[ Reply to This | # ]

News about LANCOR v. OLPC
Authored by: iraskygazer on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 07:02 PM EST

The Nigerians are just joining the rest of the global patent troll gamers
although a little late to the game.

Note that the writ mentions 'Intellectual Property'. This whole concept
smells of pending lawsuit. And we have the UN and WIPO to thank for establishing
the environment that will enable anybody to make a claim when something even
closely resembles an idea you've written on a plain piece of toilet paper. This
shows that utility and design patent terms should never have been included in
patent law in the U.S..

Now that IP is being used for lawsuits no inventor is safe from frivolous
legal challenges. This lawsuit from Nigeria is just the next step toward the
complete collapse of innovation due to the desire of all government officials,
throughout the world, to have complete unrestricted control of their people and
their 'ideas'. The actions of the Nigerian patent holder(s) is being fully
enabled by global agreements and laws designed to ensure the gaming process will
continue and only a select group of people will be able to join in the game.

Yes, I'm very cynical about this whole suit simply because it has been
designed to keep OLPC out while enabling the production of a copycat for
distribution within Nigeria. Who will truely profit from the copycat? Will it be
a Nigerian who is already wealthy by the county's standards? Just as you'd
asked, what about the children?

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Legal Team for The Lovable Lads From Lagos?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 07:18 PM EST

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News about LANCOR v. OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 07:30 PM EST
Sniff ... sniff.

The stench, er, smell of Intel and M$ is in the air.


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OLPC should just walk away.
Authored by: bloggsie on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 08:33 PM EST
OLPC should just walk away from Nigeria. The country is
overflowing in natural assets, and can well afford to
equip its schools with both teachers and computers. The
problem is that this wealth is being mis-appropriated into
the pockets of a corrupt and greedy oligarchy. The reasons
why OLPC wants to involve intself with such a regime are
beyond my understanding. Please explain.

Perhaps the OLPC people need to leave their ivory tower
for a few moments to receive a lesson or three about the
ways of the World.

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News about LANCOR v. OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 08:36 PM EST
I don't understand why olpc don't just ship a standard Nigerian keyboard
layout. Am I missing something here?

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Don't Condemn the Nigerian Government Yet
Authored by: John Hasler on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 09:30 PM EST
The Nigerian government isn't really involved in this yet so far as I know. One
judge has issued an order, but even he may vacate it when he learns more of the
facts. Let's hold off on the condemnations for a bit.

IOANAL. Licensed under the GNU General Public License

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LANCOR v. OLPC More on Anton Piller orders
Authored by: talldad on Tuesday, January 01 2008 @ 09:47 PM EST
Although IANAL but a CPA, my Down Under understanding of AP orders is that they are executed for the preservation of evidence (see Wikipedia's basic outline and plenty of other material available via Google).

Thus they are not a search warrant for non-specific material within our normal understanding of the term.

What the Wiki entry doesn't really make clear is that they are usually restricted to evidence which, if destroyed, could not be inferred from other documentation. Thus the focus on copyright, trademark and patent areas, and the obvious application to software forms of alleged infringement - illegal copying, piracy and such-like.

There are some Australian instances of AP orders being used in other areas eg. Family Court (divorce, separation, custody etc proceedings) and company investigations, where preservation of records is a key issue.

I find it problematic to see it used here in the case of a putative patent over a physical object, since there is usually plenty of corroborative detail available elsewhere in the real world.

The other worry is the temporary injunction, descibed in the article at point 4 as "Anton Piller Order and Interim Injunction against OLPC...".

As the Wikipedia article points out the AP is sometimes used with a form of injunction called Mareva to freeze assets, which can constitute a savage double-pronged attack on a business - even threatening it's very existence. (I can understand the [MS stalking horse?] "Business Software Alliance" using it to attack piracy, and I occasionally think it would be a useful weapon in the hands of the Court for the SCO Bankruptcy proceedings.)

Based on the write-up so far, it seems that this isn't the case here, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.

John Angelico
Down Under fan &
OS/2 SIG Co-Ordinator

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LANCOR v. OLPC - Dear Groklaw
Authored by: dodger on Wednesday, January 02 2008 @ 03:46 AM EST
Dear Groklaw,

Forgive me for disturbing your day. I am a poor widow living in Nigeria. My
husband was a part of the government here until he passed away in an unfortunate
keyboard accident. Two keys stuck together, and before he realized that they
were 'dead' keys, he pressed them, never to return to this world. Since he has
left us, life has been very difficult.

My husband left me a numbered bank account which, unfortunately, here in
Nigeria, I cannot access without government scrutiny. My offer to you is that if
you could help me get this money out of Nigeria, I would be willing to give you
thirty percent (30%) for your troubles.

If you could do this for me I would be eternally grateful. If not, I understand
and I bless you for reading this.

Oh, and by the way, if you know of any possibilities to join the SCO law suit
against IBM for 5 billion dollars or any other such lawsuit, I would be very
interested in your feedback. Also if you know any company anywhere manufacturing
products for Nigeria that are using our language, keyboards, skateboards,
basketballs, or really anything, please write me about it - and don't skimp on
the details.

And while I am at it, if you have any secret information about anyone, please
send it to me. I am particularly interested in Presidents of the United States,
candidates, and people who wear red dresses.

Bless you for your time and consideration of a poor widow's plight.

poor widow.

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Does that mean...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 02 2008 @ 05:05 AM EST
... if I take such a keyboard, attach it to my Linux machine, fire up xev and
hit the "new keys" to see which keycodes come up, and then add some
lines to my .xmodmap, that is "reverse engineering the driver" or
something? Isn't this how a PC compatible keyboard is supposed to work, be it
via USB or PS/2? Or do they actually initialize the keyboard in a proprietary
way so that under normal circumstances, these "new keys" are dead? Can
someone shed some light on this?

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News about LANCOR v. OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 02 2008 @ 12:36 PM EST
One laptop per child ?


Good smokescreen

As usual what gets started as a pure charity eventually becomes a
money-laundering engine for people running it

I'd like to see some figures for that "charity" project, like money
in, money out, salaries of key people involved

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News about LANCOR v. OLPC
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, January 02 2008 @ 02:25 PM EST
Countries that receive the OLPC will either
benefit from it or not. I think the benefits
will be enormous and that countries that
allow this kind of possibly-corrupt, possibly-
just-stupid interference will soon take action
to get their share of the benefits.

When all the other nations of Africa point their
fingers at Nigeria and go "tee-hee-hee, lookit
these idiots, they screwed up", then the rulers
will notice, and tell the Learned Justice that
it's time to reconsider.

"See here, Justice, I know you already got your
money and you already paid me my share, but the
problem is that your ruling has made me a laughing stock.
Reverse it, and I won't make you give back the money".

OLPC should not walk away, they have to oppose the decision.
That way the judge has a basis for reversing the bad

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There's nothing about how the keyboard works in the patent
Authored by: ka1axy on Wednesday, January 02 2008 @ 03:43 PM EST
If you go back and look at the patent application, you'll notice that the only actual description of the keyboard is a drawing of the layout, a listing of the alternate characters that can be displayed, and a crude dimensional drawing. How does this translate into seven (or nine?) years' hard labor by the two pricipals of LANCOR? My first job out of college was to develop multilingual keyboards for Data General, and it took me *maybe* 6 months. What, exactly, ddoes LANCOR claim to have protected with this patent? Nowhere do they describe their novel "no dead-key" method of adding diacritical marks; in fact, the design patent doesn't even mention this feature. The patent uses the future tense, indicating, perhaps, that the keyboard hadn't even been created at the time the patent was applied for. Something (actually, quite a few somethings) doesn't add up here. I can understand how these chaps might feel their work has been stolen, but isn't the whole point of keyboard standards that they should all work the same? OLPC tried to find a "standard" Nigerian keyboard, and made their keyboard compliant with it. How is that wrong in anyone's book?

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7 years development ??? - I doubt it
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 03 2008 @ 06:51 PM EST
...if the "All EU Languages" keyboard is anything to judge by. The
scandinavian characters are not even on the right side of the keyboard. (ref
layout shown on ) Not to mention that the A with a circle
above is totally missing - and that's a huge omission since it is part of the
scandinavian alphabet and often used. Ref

Further this blog from 2005
mentions the Konyin keyboard :
As from May, 2005, Konyin, the multilingual Computer keyboard would be on sale
throughout the country. The keyboard contains not just the naira sign, but also
all the alphabets of Nigerian languages.

Speaking in Lagos, officials of Lancor Technologies, including the Managing
Director, Mr. George Van-Lare and the CTO, Engineer Olukayode Oluwole, who is
also the inventor of the keyboard says eight years of intensive research had
produced various versions of the product with the present 4th edition being the
final. It accommodates all Nigerian languages and not just those of the three
big ethnic groups.

The keyboard is capable of typing tonal marks and ascents, diacritical marks and
characters, of more than 400 Nigerian languages.

So 8 years and not 7 years is quoted as development time *** in 2005 ***.
Interesting if for no other reason than it being a rather big discrepancy.

The XO from what I can understand uses one additional "Language key"
and not four shift keys - so I also wonder where the patent infringement is?

Add to that that the actual layouts do not match:
...and shady history of the chief tech:

Add to that also that the whole concept of customizing the
functions/alphanumerics of every key on a keyboard based on "shift"
keys was used even on the HP 41CX calculator back in 1981
("shift-keys" for user layout, programming layout, alphanumeric layout
as well as a yellow "shift" key.)

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