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back to article Nigerian keyboard firm sues One Laptop per Child

The One Laptop Per Child foundation is being sued over its XO laptop keyboard design by the Nigerian-owned, Massachusetts-based firm, Lagos Analysis Corp. Lagos claims the non-profit illegally reverse-engineered their software drivers to make the OLPC keypad more accent mark friendly to foreign fingers. The initial copyright …

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Paris Hilton

Here it comes...

419 anyone?

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Thats why the 419er's can't spell

Too many shift keys on the keyboard...

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Sam

Screw the children

...let's have a fucking lawsuit instead, it makes so much sense...

Can everyone involved in this farce please do the world a big, big favour, and suck a 9MM?

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Unhappy

Oh come on...

Someone must have some good Nigerian Spam jokes on this whole subject. I'd try to come up with one myself but I'm jet lagged!

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Joke

Will the papers start

"Dear Mr OLPC

I am xxxxxx and represent the late founder of the LAGOS keyboard company who recently passed away leaving £12 gazillion dollars...."

:)

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Coat

Prior Art?

The extra shift keys seem terribly reminiscent of the old "Symbol Shift" keys on ZX Spectrums. Surely there's a patent for them out there somewhere?

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Coat

GOOD DAY

Mr. Negroponte

I am pleased to write to you. I came about your keyboard on the internet search yesterday. I am the chairman of Lagos Analysis Corp. My collegues and I have uncovered an amount of USD$150,000,000 (one hundred fifty milion United States Dollars) owing to me. This money has already been approved for payment by the Government United States America due to the beneficiary of your keyboard deisign.

We will accept your offer of 25% of the total sum in order to facilitate the compensation. Me and friends in Nigeria feel this sufficent for coverage of damages.

Please send urgent response including:

NAME OF THE BANK,

ADDRESS OF THE BANK,

ABN NUMBER,

ACCOUNT NUMBER,

ACCOUNT HOLDER'S NAME ADDRESS

YOUR PERSONAL PHONE AND FAX NUMBERS

I am awaiting your reply.

Adé G. Oyegbọla

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I must be missing something here ...

because the OLPC keyboard looks just like a normal keyboard layout to me !

As as for having more than one 'modifier' key, that's also been standard for years - us Mac users have been used to having an 'Alt' (or 'Option') key for some 23 years now that gave easy access to an extended character set.

I could understand the OLPC project having bought a local keyboard to see how the locals are used to typing - but unless the vendor has a patent on the method of operation then there's no problem. No copyright has been infringed by independently writing software that does something similar to another piece of software.

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Why???

Seriously why try to sue and organisation doing such good to the world?

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Twats

In a word - a non-profit organisation out to better the world and what do they think is a good idea? Suing them for the little money they have.

Not to mention that they're going to directly benefit from greater IT skills in the area as more people will want there keyboard.

Short-sighted assholes.

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Stop

Well at least the lawyers make money out of this

Various PC operating systems have been had keyboard mappings which use alt gr for exactly this purpose for many years (probably including all of the symbols on both keyboards), I don't see how you can accuse someone of stealing your ideas when there's already tonnes of prior art, it's not patentable (or if it is, someone already owns it), and it's not covered under copyright.

The two shift2 keys and two alt keys (which presumably just map to the alt gr and alt keycodes respectively) would probably be patentable, but then that is not part of what he claims has been copied.

This is one of the dumbest IP cases I've heard of recently.

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Oh holy hell

What a shameless rip-off! Imagine using Alt Gr (originally intended to shift into the alternative character set, back when that had meaning) to alter the appearance of characters generated by keystrokes! A stunning innovation such as a keyboard with four shifters (mine only has control, shift, alt and alt gr after all) surely needs to be protected. The term 'intellectual property' hardly seems adequate for such a revolutionary creation. Surely, this 'fourth shift key' is a gift from some sort of deity?

Hmm. Or perhaps not. Is the copyrighted magic fourth shift key *normally* connected up to the keyboard controller in a different way from Alt Gr? Or has the whole world been violating this piss-ant company's IP since before it was founded?

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Joke

At least the lads from Lagos are getting honest now

They're saying they want money, instead of offering us a billion Gagillion dollars.

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Thumb Down

Disgraceful scam!

Taking 419er's to a whole new level...

The keyboards look nothing alike, this is just a disgraceful attempt to obtain cash from a worthy attempt to improve worldwide education...

I sincerely hope this falls on its ass at the first hurdle...

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How could they.....

The may have reverse engineered a keyboard driver, or a shift key........

Grow up, they should be disgusted with themselves dragging OLPC into the courts.

What financial loss have they suffered, not as much as they will when people realise how petty they are being, standing in the way of this project.

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Joke

You try

and help people get the same levels as the west and the first thing they learn is to sue you. :D

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Mars

Let me guess

Oh well it doesn't take a genius to figure out who is sponsoring this waste of space law suit now does it ?

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Coat

I guess I'll be the first...

PLEASE EXCUSE THIS EMAIL AS IT IS IN MUCH CONFIDENCE. I AM CEO ADE G. OYEGBOLA AND I WRITE TO YOU WITH URGENCY AS MY COMPANY HAS RECENTLY ONE SEVEN MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS (7,000,000) ONLY AS PART OF A LAW SUITS WITH AMERICAN BUSINESSES. HOWEVER, DUE TO CLIMATE IN LAGOS THE BANK DRAFT HAS NOT REACHED US AND I WISH TO ENLIST YOUR ASSISTANCE IN SUCCESSFULLY ACQUIRING THIS GREAT PROCEDURE FOR ALL BENEFIT.

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J
IT Angle

Obvious?

Hmm... Would anybody need to "reverse engineer" anything, let alone software, to get to such obvious solutions? I mean, keyboard mapping does not sound like anything that complicated. Or do I "misunderestimate" the importance of case (again)?

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Beg your pardon?

Does the Lagos keyboard say 'SHIT' on the keys next to the normal Shift keys? I really hope so!

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first glance

At first glance, the two are slightly similar, but it's hardly a copy. Be interesting to see what sort of legal chicanery they're trying on for size.

Cue jokes about OLPC getting your typical Nigerian 419 letter...

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absolute nonsense

wonder if they look they'll find some Micro$oft money behing the Lagos company as in SCO?

keyboard looks standard and not too similar. The extra characters are in the logical places (no originality) and only half of them are on the OLPC laptop anyway....

No way they'll be found guilty.

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Anonymous Coward

Merely a publicity stunt

To raise awareness of the XO laptop of course.

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Frivolous

Please, what next? Going to sue over the letter E? BTW, Nigeria is one of the world leaders in online scams and frauds. Make one want to call BS on this.

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Something from nothing

I guess they want to sue so they can get a piece of nothing. Some non-profit companies do make a profit. If OLPC makes nothing, then how could one sue for damages?

Even if some IP was stolen. Could they really claim damages? The OLPC is there to get computers in the hands of those that cannot afford them. They would never have been customers anyway.

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Reverse-engineering the driver would be useless anyway

The OLPC user environment is entirely based on Python running under Linux and some stripped-down GUI. How would a Windows keyboard driver be at all useful for that?

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This post has been deleted by its author

I wonder how long before -

Dear Friend,

How are you today? Hope all is well with you and your family? I hope this mail meets you in a perfect condition. I am using this opportunity to ask for your help in suing One Laptop per Child, a non-profit educational organization.

In return I want to compensate you and show my gratitude to you with the sum of 11,000,00 USD.

etc etc

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Anonymous Coward

If i were them...

I'd just say screw the whole country... if you're going to do this to us... no laptops for you!!

But of course that wouldn't work would it as only the children would really suffer.

A perfect case of coporations only thinking about them selves. They had just better not win. If they do there is clearly something seroiusly wrong with the world....

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Stop

It's a charity, so it's OK

... to steal local businesses' IP?

Methinks some people are being a bit too knee-jerk about this, particularly as there isn't enough information to make a judgement one way or another.

If it's a fuss about nothing, they'll be laughed out of court. If a paternalistic Western charity is inadvertantly screwing-up the local economy, then with any luck justice will be done.

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Gates Halo

Wasn't it Microsoft Nigeria, who

bribed the government into paying Mandriva fully for their laptops, and still replace the Mandriva with XP ?

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Anonymous Coward

Simple enough solution

So don't sell them to the ingrates if they want to be like that.

No OLPC for j00!

Keep that continent dark...

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Stop

oh dear

only a Lagos 'company' would sue a non-profit org.

'man, i chop your dollar! oh, you no have no dollar?'

dicks.

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Only four shift keys?

Try seven...

http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/S/space-cadet-keyboard.html

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Flame

It's the competition they're afraid of!

Y'all don't understand. The Nigerian 419 scammers are suing to stop OLPC because they are *AFRAID* of the competition! Think of all the children who could learn to compete in their "business". Nothing personal against OLPC--it's the kids they need to nail.

Actually, I think Wirth should sue the Nigerians for using his idea. They used to call them Bucky bits because "Bucky" was his nickname when he came up with the idea. Unfortunately, that was so long ago that any patents must have lapsed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucky_bits

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Joe

Yes, Coward! Come on, Clive!

Shift, Symbol Shift, Extend mode, Graphics mode... that's four! Prior art?

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Must be easy to file in the 419

You will notice that they filed this lawsuit in Nigeria, and not the United States.

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Coat

In Africa, NGO = $$$

I hate to generalize, but from the parts of Africa that I've been in working with NGO's (including Nigeria), very many Africans view NGO's as a way to PERSONAL enrichment and the good life. The community aspect is less important than possibly getting a good job (where I can steal money and material!) for ME.

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Anonymous Coward

Retarded Lawsuit

Going by what I found at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AltGr_key

"Originally, US PC keyboards (specifically: the US 101-key PC/AT keyboards) did not have an AltGr key, it being relevant to only non-US markets; they simply had "left" and "right" Alt keys."

It seems the Lagos lads took the shift keys and chopped them into 2 different buttons one being the "normal shift" and the other that essentially did what the "Alternate Graphic" button did on other keyboards (e.g. the US International Keyboard)

The only benefit I really see is that they made the key easier to access with either hand.

It appears that OLPC took the international standard keyboard layout with some extra keys for XO-specific functions, plain and simple. So, it appears the OLPC just used a feature that IBM computers were using over 20 years ago! They didn't even bother with making more than one AltGr button. I seriously doubt any reverse engineering was even needed.

Took me ten minutes on the web to find that, only going on the information provided in this article. Wonder how much time the Lagos lads spent researching before they fired off the lawsuit?

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Well now.

Ctrl-cokebottle-pipe.

(damn, I miss that keyboard.)

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Pirate

Since when

Nigerian have any credibility of any kind. That company should be instantly shutdown for trying to STEAL money from a non profit organisation.

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Joke

AZERTY

I used french keyboard this autumn. They got AZERTY layout with 2 shifts AND AlltGr. French told me they've got this layout for ages. I got a book about computers from 80s with a picture of a Japanese keyboard. There’re plenty of shifts. What about more Zillions from those freaky Asians, man? Just send’em email!

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Alert

RD8489 & Smart Common Input Method

The OLPC XO is based on Redhat's Fedora Core 6 and uses the open-source SCIM (http://www.scim-im.org/) package to provide input methods for localisation - something most GNU/Linux distributions use.

The reported 'patent' may actually be a Nigerian Registered Design if the prefix "RD" is any indicator (RD8489). I'm awaiting a response from the Nigerian Industrial Property Office.

The Lagos Analysis Corp's KONYIN keyboard has an additional "Ng" shift key and, from the documentation, claims to deliver *two* Unicode key-scan codes to the PC not the usual single scan-code (Hence the custom driver for Windows).

The XO keyboard uses a standard PC keyboard controller and uses customised keypads for each locality.

Even the symbols on the Nigerian XO keypad have markedly different layouts to the KONYIN Nigerian layout.

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Nigeria_Keyboard

As the stated intention is to go after the OLPC XO delivery agents in the destination countries this looks more like a power-play to put obstacles in the way of XO adoption.

Whether it is coincidental or orchestrated by another company with a vested interest in seeing the OLPC project fail is an interesting speculation.

There's Microsoft - the XO with FC6 will disrupt their aim to get students familiar with Windows as young as possible as it leads to purchasing decisions and preferences in later life - and Intel - their conventionally based Classmate was launched in response to the XO, since the XO uses an AMD CPU - or maybe another company?

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Joke

Strong evidence

Many readers have failed to notice that the O.L.P.C. keyboard bears a resemblance to the Lagos keyboard that simply couldn't be coincidental. Note the ordering of the keys (both begin Q,W,E,R,T,Y, statistically extremely unlikely if the keys have been randomly ordered), the oversized space key situated below the other keys, and the exaggerated 'Enter' key to the right.

Apart from the colour scheme, the two keyboards are strikingly similar. O.L.P.C. doesn't appear to have even tried to hide its reverse engineering of the Nigerian mechanism for interacting with a computer.

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Umm, yeah

Is it just me, or are the two keyboards not even remotely similar, aside from the fact they are both QWERTY style keyboards? Are this other corporation going to claim they invented the QWERTY keyboard as well? If not then they should shut up, as they are stealing someone elses design just by using that layout.

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Anonymous Coward

Alt-Gr is a PC keyboard thing (& Atari ST)

Actually it's also an ATARI ST thing too, European keyboards use Alt-Gr to get to the Euro key, and it previously is used on Spanish keyboards to get to the @ symbol.

It dates back to 1980's European Atari ST, but probably a lot further back. (I recall the VT100 teletypes had multiple shifts in the photographs I've seen)

Here's a Japanese VT100 keyboard with multiple shifts.

http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/hhkeyboard/kb_collection/images/lk411-aj.gif

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Flame

Clearly...

This is bullshit... the proof is right in the article... this Mass, USA based Nigerian owned firm is suing Mass, USA based non-profit OLPC in, wait for it.... Nigeria?!? and plans to sue in other nations where the laptop is being sold.

My bullshit alarm went off immediately just after reading the headline of this story... please, at least make an effort to disguise your bullshit as something legit. i mean seriously, this is the united states of america, home of patient trolls, copyright thieves and the highly coveted Judicial Lottery (formerly known as a frivolous lawsuit).

Not only are these people scammers and bullshit artists, but their stupid too, folks, everybody knows, when playing the judicial lottery for technology, you buy your lottery ticket from the US district court building in and for the eastern district of Texas, them Texans stack the decks in favor of the lottery trolls.

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Dead Vulture

Someone should tell them the 3th Marine Div. could smash them like a bug

No one would care and we could use the oil. They should think this though.

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Coat

The OLPC laptop plan is working!!!

Well surely the end of result of this whole thing is to give less developed countries the tools and skills to compete in the global economy.... and that is just what these guys are doing!

Expect more lawsuits as more people get access to a cheap laptop to learn how the west is based on suing people not innovation. Surely they will realise as so many of us have that is is alot easier to sue sue sue, and all you need to find a frivolous law suit is an interweb, and a US court.

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Silver badge

This is sick

This whole lawsuit is sick, and shows the level of depravity to which corporations will stoop in the name of earning money for their shareholders. I hope the judge throws the case out and awards costs to the OLPC project -- or, if the jurisdiction where the case is heard allows for expropriation of so-called "Intellectual Property", orders LANCOR's copyright to be forfeited.

At any rate, there was no need for Negroponte and co. to have reverse-engineered anything. The symbols generated by each key are displayed, logically enough, on the keys themselves; and the mapping was no doubt chosen to place symbols with ones having a similar shape or meaning, in order to make the best use of associative memory in human operators. For example, the letter N also produces a Spanish N with a tilda (associated by similarity of shape); A produces an "AE" ligature, and S produces the German "ss" character (similarity of sound). But then the mapping begins to diverge. Figure 4 on the OLPC keyboard can also produce the dollar and pound signs (both currencies), but on the Lagos keyboard it produces the Euro and dollar signs; figure 1 on the OLPC produces an exclamation mark and the Spanish inverted exclamation mark which precedes a sentence (obviously related), but on the Lagos keyboard it produces an exclamation mark and a "section" sign.

How can producing something so obviously so different be considered a violation of anyone's so-called "Intellectual Property"?

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