back to article Nigerian firm demands $20m from OLPC

Lagos Analysis Corporation (Lancor) is continuing its legal attack against the One Laptop Per Child foundation. Lancor is demanding $20m in damages against OLPC through the Nigerian court and has obtained a temporary injunction banning the non-profit from selling its XO laptops in the country. The Nigerian-owned, Massachusetts- …

COMMENTS

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Tom

It always amazes me...

...How people can go out of their way to make life difficult for others trying to do a good turn.

Even if what OLPC have done is wrong, surely they could be cut at least a little slack because they're trying to make a difference to children in places like Nigeria.

It all boils down to greed as far as I'm concerned.

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Headline needs correcting

"Patent Troll Blocks Distribution of Free Laptops to Poor Nigerian Children"

I would dearly love to see OLPC counter-sue based on the fact that this is *obviously* a frivolous suit based on a false claim, and have Lancor declared a "vexatious litigant."

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no show

OLPC didn't show up in court because they still haven't been served with the complaint. I wonder what kind of legal system they have in Nigeria? I'm guessing it's a good capitalist judicial system, where those who pay the judge the most win the case. But I could just be cynical.

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Then just don't make it available in Nigeria.

Nigeria obviously has enough corporations to make a difference, or this would never have got to court.

Why bother with a country that's doing well enough to have lawyers, already?

Or, to put it another way, any country that allows protectionism on that scale is past help.

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Silver badge
Alert

Public nusciance laws?

if Nigerian judges are as bribeable as the nice man wiring me 2bn dollars promises, could we instead use the money to bribe a judge into finding these trolls guilty of being a public nusciance? That is a real crime ain't it?

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IT Angle

Is it from a prince?

With several millions to dispose of and all that is required is your bank details (sort code and account number) witha notional pre-payment to ease things through?

The court case should be dismissed with costs to the plaintiff in my opinion.

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Are they sure?

That they've understood the communications correctly? Are they sure that it wasn't actually saying "your long lost uncle whom you've never heard of who just happened to have 20 million dollars that he couldn't get out of the country before being assassinated designated OLPC as the sole benefactors of the fortune (provided they pay a one (or two) time fee to ease administrative costs" ?

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Coat

ah ,they are just protecting their market

after all, if all these kiddies in nigeria get a cheap laptop and internet access that means that soon there will be plenty more phishies (or should that be phishers ..) in the pond .. thus thinning the market for the largo phishes already in nigeria.

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non profit

i thought you could only claim damages if the company was making money using your design? if its non profit, how is it in anyway affecting sales or business of the original patent holder?

either way its pretty disgusting although i love the fact theyve taken a jab at the guy for his stint in prison. way to go el reg! its nice to have a non biased report! not that i blame you

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Anonymous Coward

how about

paying for health services, teachers and blackboards instead of laptops.

O right... where's the publicity in things that actually help nowdays, far better to do something trendy.

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Thumb Down

Since when

Nigeria as any kind of credibility? The Patant troll(based in the states) should be jailled at once and prevent from doing any kind of business planet wide.

This is no concern to me, i will soon be rich with $10 millions been wired to me direct from nigeria, i just won their national lottery!

The Patents system as lost any usefull meaning, it is now a perverted system that let the lowess scums freely STEAL money from anybody....

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Alien

Old Saint Nick

I was put off OLPC as soon as I saw the name Nicholas Negroponte. This is the guy who tried to foist "Interent Time" onto the world, supposedly as a good deed to solve all our time-zone problems. Turned out his philanthropy amounted to little more than endorsing kooky "Swatch" watches which move the time reference meridian from Greenwich to Biel...

http://nzsm.spis.co.nz/article1971.htm

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@Tom

Spot on... my sentiments exactly.

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Tim
Flame

Let them know what you think of them

Info@lancorltd.com

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Flame

Fraud

Nigeria's biggest export is fraud. Or so the deposed princess living in exile in Amsterdam who wants me to help her get 4 million squids out of a bank in London tells me.

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Coat

@Governor Beeblebrox

It's a bit of an over-generalization to say that their biggest export is fraud.

Nigeria is a wonderfully diverse country that engages in many businesses other than fraud. I highly recommend you visit Nigeria and experience their diverse culture for yourself. Then maybe you won't be so quick as to pass generalizations.

I know that down here in South Africa the Nigerians do a fair bit of business in drug-dealing and drug-trafficking. So much so, in fact, that one of the slang terms for a drug dealer is a "nigerian" (I work in the addictions treatment field).

When discussing the nation of Nigeria you should at least do them the courtesy of including their various other larcenous activities and not focus on fraud and corruption.

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Joke

Lucky us

I wonder if those computers were also supposed to have internet capabilities. Imagine the thousands of emails convincing the world that Nigeria banks are full of abandoned multibiljon accounts.

I say - hail Lancor

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Joke

Heh

Hey quit picking on those who are deserving enough to get a better edcuation through one of these free laptops. . .

"Maw lok what I did at skool today."

"click click, badu?"

"Werre rich m()m, I just stolen 50k peples ID's"

"CLICK CLICK!!!"

In all seriousness though I personally dont want to see another "Plesae give us your information and we will wire you 50% of $9071238921387893" emails. . .

*sighs*

GRAB COAT

YOU DONT HAVE THAT

TAKE COAT

YOU NOW HAVE COAT

LEAVE NORTH

YOU LEAVE NORTH

DOOR HITS YOU ON THE WAY OUT

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Prior Art

The Smith Corona typewriter of 1886 had a shift key.

" a key casing ither keys to print diffierent characters when pressed ".

The first version to go on sale in France a couple of years later had a diffierent keyboard layou (swapping keycaps on hte original deveice ) and accented characters.

Going to be a tough one.

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Dear OLPC

My am name is Prince Olobu Cashsteal and I must inform about you for the amount 20 million dollar US available. In order complete transaction financial I ask only for amount of......

blah....got bored.

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Silver badge

Am I missing something here?

It appears the general feeling here is that charities should be freely allowed to steal the work of others. This is complete non-sense. If you ever stood to loose millions of dollars because a charity stole your idea then I doubt you would be feeling, let's say, very charitable, no matter how good the cause.

Assuming that in this case the financial rewards for the rights to this patent, if valid, are negligible then the only way to make money may be by just this kind of action. Whether you agree with it or not that's the way of the world. However, in my opinion this is the short sighted, get rich quick, bad publicity greed option. I fell an amicable solution to this would be for the patent holders to become one of the sponsors of the product, get their name on the press releases, gain good publicity and reap the benefits over the years to come.

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Coat

@James Anderson

Pity that Smith Corona didn't put their efforts into coming up with the first spelling check system. Looks like they needed it rather more than the shift key if that really is a direct quote......

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Alert

ChrisW

The first article that popped up on here about this showed the OLPC keyboard and the allegedly-infringed-against design. The differences were more evident than the similarities once you got beyond the fact that they are both keyboards. It also had the text of the suit, and basically, it looked to *all* the commenters like they were:

a) claiming similarities in the most general of terms that *even so* were tenuous

b) claiming infringement of features which LANCOR did not invent.

Not everyone thinks that charity means stealing is okay; if you could get a free laptop, why would you buy one? But even then, once the OLPC scheme has raised the computer literacy of LANCOR's target market, that market will be a boom one for them. An enlightened (or even canny, presuming they really do want to make money out of regionalised keyboards) corp would grant OLPC a free licence and make a big song and dance about it for free publicity.

Re: exports

I think the oil revenue outstrips the 419 and drugs industries, somehow. Though you could still call that exporting corruption, since the money ends up in the pockets of corrupt government officials.

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Coat

Investigative reporting?

What surprises me most is that many people jump to conclusions regarding this 'case', while I would like to read about:

- does any such patent really exist?

- would it be a valid patent if so? (and who owns it?)

- might the OLPC XO infringe said patent?

- etc.

But instead we'll just have to make do with a blurb that repeats that the OLPC organisation has a case against it, or something, and that some Nigerians would like money.

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Pirate

But who's really behind this?

Wonder if Ade Oyegbola is a front for all the real aggrieved parties: Intel, Microsoft, the local PC distributor, etc.

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Re: Investigative reporting?

You missed one.

OLPC is not the only PC sold in Nigeria. What keymaps other PCs use and why for example Windows 2003 is not slapped with the same lawsuit.

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Flame

RE: It always amazes me...

not me, mate. this world is full of people that spy a free ride and do their damnedest to hitch it (and bugger the consequences).

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some more info on the keyboard case

http://www.olpcnews.com/hardware/keyboard/olpc_patent_infringement_scam.html

http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=796745

www.konyin.com

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@anton ivanov and others

apparently the whole point is in the keyboard driver. That nigerian keyboard need sa specific driver. they 2 additional keys are nut just 'relabeled' shift keys but transmit a unique key code that is not present in other keyboards.

The driver reacts to that to form the special characters. ( similar to when they started adding the menu and windows key on keyboards. the nigerian keyboard has 2 additional keys specific for the typing functions of the keyboard.

It's a combination of the hardware ( 2 keys sending a unique keycode transmission over the connection between keyboard and pc )

and the software ( the keyboard driver on the Pc side )

Apparently the problem is that both the unique keycode and part of the driver code ended up in the OLPC ...

They relabeled the keys but the functionality is the same. there is a technical analysis somewhere ( slashdot , groklaw.. i forget where i read it) that details very deep on how that nigerian keyboard works ( both hardware and software wise. )

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

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20071226210020415

groklaw has the full claim text.

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Tim
Flame

re:Let them know what you think of them

I sent the following to all the contacts I could find for Lancors clients:

[email addresses excised by Reg moderator.]

cc Info@lancorltd.com

date 4 Jan 2008 19:53

subject Patent Troll Blocks Distribution of Free Laptops to Poor Nigerian Children

Are you happy to do business with this creeps?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/03/lancor_demands_20_mil/

*************************

I got this responce:

Dear Tim,

We thank you for your mail.

We are a little miffed at your message, but then we guess in your neck of the woods, wherever that may be, it is OK to steal your neighbor’s property as long as you are donating the stolen property to “Poor Nigerian Children”

Yours,

LANCOR

***************

To which I responded with a view of the comments from here:

to LANCOR <Info@lancorltd.com>

[Email addresses excised.]

date 4 Jan 2008 20:47

subject Re: Patent Troll Blocks Distribution of Free Laptops to Poor Nigerian Children

Do you really have a case, I think not...

The differences were more evident than the similarities once you got beyond the fact that they are both keyboards. It also had the text of the suit, and basically, it looked to *all* the commenters like they were:

a) claiming similarities in the most general of terms that *even so* were tenuous

b) claiming infringement of features which LANCOR did not invent.

Not everyone thinks that charity means stealing is okay; if you could get a free laptop, why would you buy one? But even then, once the OLPC scheme has raised the computer literacy of LANCOR's target market, that market will be a boom one for them. An enlightened (or even canny, presuming they really do want to make money out of regionalised keyboards) corp would grant OLPC a free licence and make a big song and dance about it for free publicity.

OLPC is not the only PC sold in Nigeria. What keymaps other PCs use and why for example Windows 2003 is not slapped with the same lawsuit?

*******************

[excised]
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Tim
Flame

re:Let them know what you think of them

The reply I got.....

from LANCOR <Info@lancorltd.com>

subject RE: Patent Troll Blocks Distribution of Free Laptops to Poor Nigerian Children

Dear Tim,

We can feel your passion, but again your anger is misdirected... don’t believe everything you read online.

We are sure OLPC has very capable lawyers that will make their case for them in court and not in the media or online blog.

Further, we are sure that the rule of law will be upheld “even in the Nigerian Court.”

These things don’t always seem the same when the facts are actually sorted out in Court.

Again thanks for your mail, just sit back and let the lawyers sort it out.

Yours,

LANCOR

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Gates Horns

Special Ops

M$ would be very scared of all those potential Vista users growing up on a charitable laptop running Linux not M$. These poor people may then never be customers of M$ and as desperate as M$ would be to kill the OLPC, it would not want to do it publicly in a way put could diminish it's 'reputation'. Sounds to me that this is the work 'special ops' unit of M$ lawyer army. No doubt 'special ops' is providing covert support to the Nigerians in how to defeat these threats to 'computer freedom' and future potential revenue streams.

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Pirate

MONEY FOR YOU

DEAR OLPC (SIR),

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT REAL NIGERIAN KEYBOARDS DO NOT HAVE LOWER-CASE MODALITIES.

IF YOU DO DECIDE TO SETTLE THE LAWSUIT WITH A PAYMENT TO LANCOR, DON'T SEND IT BY WESTERN UNION. ALSO, IF YOU RECEIVE A PAYMENT FROM LANCOR, WAIT AT LEAST 60 DAYS FOR THE CHEQUE TO CLEAR.

YOURS IN GOD,

MARIAM ABACHA

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Nigeria, you say

A totally unnecessary waste of legal effort and $$$'s. Let the kids have the PC's and get on w/ life

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