Breaking News: OLPC Association Eating its Own Supporters

   
   
   
   
   

olpc cease and desist letter

It what only can be described as OLPC eating its own, the OLPC Association is taking legal action against programs that are trying to implement One Laptop Per Child deployments. They have asked the Dutch Patent Office to enforce its trademark rights against OpenWijs.nl, which is run by longtime OLPC supporter and advocate Frits Hoff.

Here is the email from Frits, Chair of the foundation OpenWijs.nl, who is rightly flabbergasted that OLPC Association would do such a thing to a organization like his.

dutch trademark letter PDF
To our surprise we received a letter of the Dutch Patent Office [English translation]. We need to stop IMMEDIATELY using the logo and name of OLPC in our website and all other media. I called Walter de Brouwer but he didn't know anything about this letter.

We answered the office that we had contact with many people inside OLPC and it was never a problem. And that we use the XO´s in a non-commercial way, only people who want to do projects with it or want to support it can buy one for the same price as we do. Unfortunately this didn't help anything, we received a second letter, see attachment.

At the meeting with Matt Keller at Schiphol airport March 19 2008 Matt gave me and Harrie Vollaard the right to use the logo and brand of OLPC in a non-commercial way. Unfortunately not on paper.

That´s why I started the foundation OpenWijs.nl to manage OLPC projects in 10 developing countries. We do this with a lot of volunteers and it takes not only a lot of time and energy but also money.

As you can imagine we are very disappointed about this action and we would like to know who is behind this action and why this is done?

What next? Will OLPC Association demand that other deployments also stop using OLPC images? Or go after Sugar Labs usage of XO laptop designs?

Coming after Nichols Negroponte again demands to toss XO's out of helicopters, I can only conclude that OLPC has lost its mind.

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14 Comments

This is not part of an OLPC policy change.

I don't know the origins of this legal request; I saw it for the first time today. It seems specific to OpenWijs - referring to an earlier request from August 5.

Does OpenWijs want this discussed in public?

For what it's worth, Robert Fadel of OLPC in response to a Sugar Labs query in December 2008 [1] confirmed that the Xo logo should not be used without a licensing or co-branding agreement, a request SL has honored since then.

Sugar Labs has trademarked its name and logo, too [2], and has had occasion to assert its rights.

In marketing and communications, which today means websites too, it is vital that confusion not arise concerning trademarks.

I myself was unaware there was any controversy concerning OpenWijs.nl.

1. http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/2008-December/003059.html
2. http://tdr.uspto.gov/search.action?sn=77634279#

It would probably be a good idea for OLPCNews to actually contact OLPC and get both sides of the story.

I know for a fact that OLPC staff read this site daily, even Negroponte, and the comments here are open. I welcome any commentary and input from OLPC staff.

That's not how journalism works, Wayan.

Ah, that is the disconnect. I am not a journalist and never claimed to be, I am a blogger.

I thought this was OLPC 'News' - and this specific post is titled 'breaking news' - last time I checked, journalists report the news, not bloggers.

Which would make you a journalist or an imbecile - take your pick.

Awww, now don't be jealous. Its unflattering.

Sean, if we take Robert Fadel's point to heart, "OLPC can not be selective in enforcing its trademarks" then all XO deployments should be on the lookout for cease and desist letters

This is true, and has always been the case. Sean Daly wrote above how these matters have been handled in the past and continue to be handled. As you state, trademark law does not allow for selective enforcement. It does, however, allow for generous use agreements to be made.

And you think there are use agreements with every deployment? I think not. So this is selective enforcement.

The real question is why? And why such a heavy handed response? What did OpenWijs do (or not do) that is worth OLPCA kicking them out of the OLPC club?

Look, Wayan: I've already given you the contact information if you want to find out what's actually going on. A journalist would follow up the lead and learn something. I don't know what a blogger would do --- wage a war in the comments, I guess.

A blogger invites OLPC to explain its actions on the blog. Happy if they did it in comments or a Guest Post or on the OLPC blog. Whatever way they want, as long as its public so we can all understand why they're doing this to a longtime OLPC supporter.

Wayan, that is not the definition of a blogger, that is the definition of a "troll". As a once frequent reader of OLPCNews that has mostly stopped because of the triumph of opinion over content, I also must question your self-description as an OLPC "supporter".

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