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OLPC: Nigeria's Registrar Finds No Proof KONYIN Registration Was Extended
Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 08:00 PM EDT

I have some news for you regarding the litigation against OLPC in Nigeria. It seems the litigation, ostensibly regarding an allegation of patent infringement, is based on an expired design registration.

The Registrar for Trade Marks, Patents & Designs at the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry has just sent OLPC Nigeria's law firm, Kusamotu & Kusamotu, a letter [PDF] in response to an inquiry as to whether the inventors of the KONYIN keyboard had gotten an extension to their design registration or if it had expired. After investigation, the Registrar's representative, Chinyerr Agbai, says that there is "no evidence of the extension of the Design in the Registry's record" leading it to "conclude that the certificate of extension of Design does not exist."

And yet the plaintiffs submitted a piece of paper that they swore was an extension. Is it a fraud, then? We'll find out soon, because this new letter will be filed by OLPC Nigeria with the court shortly. That should be the ball game, but in a Nigerian court, it's hard to predict outcomes.

Do you remember I said, based on my research, that I thought it had expired and hence was not validly registered and so couldn't be the foundation for any litigation? It seems I was on point.

As you know, there was nevertheless an early successful attempt to get an injunction against OLPC in Nigeria, based on the claim of patent infringement on the keyboard design.

When I noticed it seemed to have expired, I asked Adé Oyegbola, CEO of LANCOR, the company that sells the KONYIN keyboard, about it, and he told me this:

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.

The office where you pay the fees says it finds no evidence that it happened.

And here's what the plaintiffs' attorney presented to the court, an affidavit [Page 1; page 2, page 3, PDFs], in which it claimed the following:

This invention was patented in Nigeria in June of 2003 with registration number RD 8489. The Certificate of Patent issued by the Trademark Registry, Abija and the Certificate of the Design are hereby attached as "Exhibits A and A1" respectively.

Actually, if you look at the design registration, the date of registration was May, not June, of 2003. Here are Exhibit A and A1 [PDF]. If you look at Exhibit A1, you'll notice that it purports to be a Certificate of Extension, dated November 21, 2007, signed by an individual with the last name Agbai, initials C. O., above a line saying the individual is at least representing the "Registrar of Patents and Designs" for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It "certifies" that Oyagbola and his partner on August 15, 2007 paid the fee for an extension of copyright in the Design No. 8489 and so the copyright is extended another five years.

Excuse my curled lip, please, but why isn't the certificate of the extension of the "copyright" dated August 15, 2007, then, if that is when they purportedly paid the fee and got the extension? November 21, 2007 seems like a very odd date, unless you recall that the plaintiffs filed their motion on November 22. What a coincidence. And if it were true that an extension was applied and paid for, in August or November or ever, where is the evidence of its existence? What fact basis is there to certify that it happened? And who signed it? The Registrar's Office, the real Chinyerr Agbai, now says there is no proof that this ever happened.

I know. The dog ate it.

It is also a matter of record that Oyegbola was convicted of bank fraud in Boston in 1990 and served a year in prison.

OLPC Nigeria already told the court that the Extension of Design was invalid, but the court ignored them. I don't think it will do so now. If there is no valid extension, an injunction based upon it would be improper, obviously. The court will have another opportunity to get it right, as this letter will now be presented to the court. That's if it *wants* to get it right, which I am not at all convinced it does.

OLPC's attorneys also already tried to tell the court that it doesn't use the KONYIN keyboard in any case, but the court let the injunction stay in place, essentially saying it wanted to have a hearing, so testimony could be heard. Hopefully, this injustice will be corrected shortly, after the hearing, and the final result will bring honor to Nigeria.

Here's the letter as text:



4th March, 2008

Kusamotu & Kusamotu

Attention: Ayo Kusamotu


Sequel to your enquiry on the above subject matter and our subsequent investigations, it was revealed that the said Design was filed and duly registered but noted that there is no evidence of the extension of the Design in the Registry's record.

By this development, the Registry is surprised that a certificate of Extension of Design could be obtained without proper p[r]oof of records in the Registry, and can only conclude that the certificate of extension of Design does not exist.

Yours faithfully,

Chinyerr Agbai
For: Registrar, Trade Marks, Patents & Designs


OLPC: Nigeria's Registrar Finds No Proof KONYIN Registration Was Extended | 172 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here, please.
Authored by: chaz_paw on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 08:08 PM EDT
Corrections here, please

Proud Linux user since 07/26/04
Registered Linux user #422376


[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here, please.
Authored by: chaz_paw on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 08:10 PM EDT
Off Topic here, please.

Proud Linux user since 07/26/04
Registered Linux user #422376


[ Reply to This | # ]

NewsPick discussions here, please.
Authored by: chaz_paw on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 08:11 PM EDT
NewsPick discussions here, please.

Proud Linux user since 07/26/04
Registered Linux user #422376


[ Reply to This | # ]

Conspiracy to derail OLPC
Authored by: bbaston on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 08:41 PM EDT
So there was a certain US company marketing a small laptop in "competition" with the OLPC charity effort - one which spent exorbitant amounts of money to "sell" their product - and it seems they solicited a little help wherever they could find it - to be sure a "promised" OLPC order didn't go through.

Wonder if that has anything to do with this story? Hey Intel - am I off base or what?

imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nigeria's Registrar Finds No Proof
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 09:03 PM EDT
The little I know about Nigeria (and similar bureaucracies elsewhere)leaves the
possibility that the records are incorrect or that the fee was paid but the
Certificate never issued, when it should have been.

I just went through a similar problem with my Property Taxes where the Assessor
apparently lost some paperwork I hand delivered to them, got a receipt for and
have copies of and never updated their records.

If there is proof I'm sure it will surface soon.

Otherwise this is good news.

Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

but in a Nigerian court, it's hard to predict outcomes.
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 10:32 PM EDT
>> " but in a Nigerian court, it's hard to predict outcomes. "

What is this based on? Where can one find out about Nigerian courts?

[ Reply to This | # ]

OLPC: Nigeria's Registrar Finds No Proof KONYIN Registration Was Extended
Authored by: kurt555gs on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 11:33 PM EDT
Mr Peter Joe

From: Peter Joe -

Dear friend,

First, I must solicit your confidence in this letter. I am Mr. Peter Joe Bello,
the director of Assets and Treasures in a deposit company where I work. I am
writing you this letter to seek your partnership cooperation in receiving a
total amount of $13.7M (Thirteen Million Seven Hundred Thousand United States
dollars) which was deposited with our company here in Senegal. This total amount
was deposited as a family treasure with my company by late Mr. Gabriel Kpoleh, a
Liberian citizen and personal aid to President Charles Taylor.

Mr. Gabriel Kpoleh, his wife and two Children were killed by rebels loyal to the
President near Kuru village during the past crisis in Liberia. Since the
untimely death of Mr. Gabriel Kpoleh and his family, the management of my
company has mandated my office to make several enquiries to locate any of his
extended relatives, but no fruitful result was achieved as all my efforts also
proved unsuccessful to locate any member of his family. Before my observation in
this development, I discovered that late Mr. Gabriel Kpoleh did not make an
HEIR/WILL. The management has been deliberating on how to revert this fund to
the company's account since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives
for over 3 years now. It is therefore upon this discovery that I and my junior
colleague in my department decide to seek your consent to present you as the
next of kin or relation to the deceased so that we will quickly move this money
out of Senegal to be delivered in your care as the
next of kin or relation entitled to inherit this fund.

All arrangement to move this deposited fund has been put in place and all I
require is your honest and sincere partnership co-operation to enable us see
this money secured into a reliable custody. As an insider in the company, I have
all the necessary legal documents that will back up the claim of this deposit
and I guarantee you that this fund movement will be executed under a legitimate
arrangement that will protect both of us from any breach of the law. On smooth
completion and receipt of this total deposited fund, you will be entitled to
your own share of the total sum as gratification. We agreed that 35% of this
money will be for you as our receiving partner, while 65% would be for me and my
junior colleague. Thereafter I will visit your country for disbursement and
further investment plans.

You have been advised to keep this information a top secret as we are still
working in the company and intend to resign from service after this money is
received in your secured bank account. I shall furnish you with further details
and necessary procedures with which to make a quick shipment progress. I suggest
you get back to me immediately through my confidential email address stating
your wish in this urgent matter.

Thanks for your anticipated cooperation and best regards.

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Peter Joe

PS. My extension letter of trademarks is genuine.


M$ Delenda Est!
* Kurt *

[ Reply to This | # ]

Something doesn't add up 2006 not = to 2007
Authored by: devil's advocate on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 02:48 AM EDT

Registration of the original design was on 15th May 2003. This was to expire on 15/8/2006 (3 years, 3 months) but may be extended for two further periods of 5 years each. On the 15th of August 2007 plaintiff alleges that he extended it, exactly one year too late (or is there an error in the original certificate?). Maybe this date refers to the exact moment of extension, even it was only applied for on the 21st of November, within the 6 month grace period. Someone please clarify.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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