No More XO Laptop Keyboards for Nigerian Children

Nigeria OLPC
Don't touch the keyboard!

Seriously--it's now a crime for OLPC to sell or distribute the laptop in Nigeria. You have been warned. Pay $20 million to LANCOR and all will be well. No, this is not a Nigerian scam...or maybe it is. Judge for yourself.

There is an excellent summary of the status of the lawsuit against OLPC on Groklaw. The post includes links to copies of the court documents and a summary of applicable Nigerian law.

Lagos Analysis Corporation, also known as LANCOR, got a Nigerian judge to sign an order in December that stops OLPC from distributing the XO in Nigeria. Violate the order and the consequence is time in a Nigerian jail.

LANCOR claims that OLPC and Nicholas Negroponte stole the design LANCOR patented for their KONYIN Multilingual Keyboard.

OLPC attorneys requested more information about the alleged "infringement of intellectual property rights" but haven't received anything specific from LANCOR other than a demand for $20 million US dollars. Groklaw quotes part of the OLPC attorney's letter in response to LANCOR:

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.

Groklaw points out that the protection of intellectual property may not be the end goal of the lawsuit. It could just tie up OLPC in a long battle. Others gain monetarily while the children of Nigeria lose.

I wonder what the children of Galadima would say if they knew other children in their country won't be having the same chance they have had just because some grownups think money is more important than learning.

This post was submitted by Eden Krehbiel, who reminds you that your French Pootle needs your help.

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I'm not familiar with Nigeria specifically, but can any manufacturer make a justifiable claim that that distribution of the OLPC in a less developed nation or developing nation would displace the sale of one million units of their product? The intended audience of the OLPC would never be in a position to buy a keyboard from LANCOR anyways as they most likely don't own a computer.

I personally think this is just a basic legal scam - no dark anti-OLPC conspiracy needed. A shady guy (Oyegbola was convicted of fraud before) sees an opportunity to make a fast buck with a frivolous lawsuit.

Suing a high-profile, well-funded program will make headlines. Headlines that Oyegbola hopes will force OLPC to settle with him quickly just to get him to go away.

I hope OLPC's law firm, like its PR company, is working for free and gets all up in Oyegbola grill just for spite.

"Our Clients, for a period of 9 years conducted series of research work, engaged in extensive software design work, compiled data . . ."

Nine years to design a keyboard? I'm sure they're simply splendid chaps, these Nigerians, but perhaps just a teeny bit slow off the mark? I'd have thought six weeks ought to about cover it.

Cheers, Martin

Wow - guess my XO just went up in value. It has a Nigerian keyboard.

LANCOR have totally missed the point. The users of the OLPC couldn't care less what the keyboard configuration is. They could totally randomise the whole layout, it wouldn't matter to a child who has never seen a computer before. A few years later though, that same child would have a keyboard layout preference. Now if you were LANCOR would you want your future customers to have a preference for your keyboard layout, or something altogether different? The shotgun is being aimed directly at the feet and they are pulling the trigger.

This is a very frustrating story. Unfortunately I fear that this case might be dragged into eternity with the only immediate winners being the lawyers who get their fees for each hour spent on this silly lawsuit.

I do have my doubts that LANCOR can uphold a ban of OLPC imports into Nigeria, but again this is Nigeria and funny things do happen here.

I will be digging a bit deeper into this with my "nigerian connections" and post an update in a couple of days...

BTW. I know the Intel people working in Nigeria pretty well and I am very certain that they have nothing to do with this lawsuit. They are targeting an older age group (secondary schools) and therefore they have avoided a head on collision in Nigeria.

Anders Mogensen

Proving my point that Nigerian officials are completely corrupt, probably that Intel knows how those can be corrupted and that's why Intel is going to distribute crappy Classmates there. Intel's corruption efforsts, which sole purpose is to slow down the cheap open-source laptop revolution.

Anders Mogensen, that's not what OLPC's attorney in Nigeria has said. He said Intel has done everything possible to go into a head-on competition against OLPC, in an effort to stop OLPC progress in that country. Look specifically into the Wall Street Journal and AllAfrica articles for clues. All kinds of middlemen are doing the promotion of the Classmate alternatives in the different same countries where OLPC is talking with officials, so who knows if Lancor has been persuaded by someone to sue this charity.

> LANCOR have totally missed the point. The users of the OLPC couldn't care less what the keyboard configuration is. They could totally randomise the whole layout, it wouldn't matter to a child who has never seen a computer before.

According to this slashdot comment, this has already happened:

Old layout:

New layout:

Why not give them to 'all kids' in 'all countries' instead of the 'rapid' indoctrination of future 'child and/or young adult slave labor' exploited for 'off shore' support for developed nations? This is so transparent it borders on insulting...not only is the "Microsoftian' approach a security threat for US interests (i.e. does one honestly believe parts can't be mixed and matched for other reasons, DOS and Windows are security nightmares, etc.) but the electronic waste doesn't offset the increase in productivity except as a 'corporate write-off' or board member 'warm fuzzy'.

I am Nigerian. If this LANCOR thing is a law, just break it and see what happens. Maybe a bunch of posturing keyboard designers enough to scare you from the mission to give education? Get some marketers and sellers behind OLPC already.

Hola soy Diego Ger.ventas de kvi accesorios y somos fabricantes de fundas para xo para traslado de xo. cualquier consulta o empresa que este interesada para promocionar su producto y regalar esta funda consu logo, mi mail es y le detallaremos y mandaremos fotos de la funda gracias,saludos...