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[school-discuss] OLPC & Patent Issues

I couldn't seem to find a stable URL for this story, and
it's fairly short, so I'm passing along the whole thing.
It was originally from the Associated Press, but it's
been copied by Yahoo News and others.


Nigerian patent suit still dogs OLPC

By BRIAN BERGSTEIN, AP Technology Writer
Friday, March 14, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A potential $20 million problem for the
group behind the "$100 laptop" isn't going away easily.

Ade Oyegbola, an inventor who claims the One Laptop Per
Child nonprofit stole his designs for a Nigerian keyboard,
recently won a round in a Lagos court. Now this week,
Oyegbola is pressing his case in U.S. federal court.

The dispute began last fall. One Laptop Per Child, spun out
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Nicholas
Negroponte, was sued by Oyegbola's company, Lagos Analysis
Corp., known as Lancor.

Nigerian dialects require punctuation marks not
found on standard English keyboards, so Lancor
developed a keyboard that uses four shift keys to
produce the symbols. Oyegbola claims that OLPC
bought two of Lancor's keyboards in 2006, then
copied the design for its own models intended
for sale in Nigeria.

"It was obvious to anybody who looked at it,"
Oyegbola said Thursday.

Lancor filed a patent lawsuit seeking $20 million in damages
in Nigeria, and last month a federal court there rejected
OLPC's bid to dismiss the case. The court also extended a
restraining order prohibiting OLPC from distributing its
laptops in the country.

Separately, OLPC asked a court in Massachusetts, where Lancor
also has an office, to clear it of any wrongdoing. This week,
that case was moved to federal court, where Lancor filed a
counterclaim alleging violation of trade secrets.

A spokesman for OLPC had no comment. When Lancor's lawsuit
first emerged, the organization said that as far as it knew,
"all of the intellectual property used in the XO laptop is
either owned by OLPC or properly licensed."

The keyboard lawsuit is one of a few setbacks for OLPC,
which has gotten its laptops to fewer children than it
first expected and at roughly twice the originally sought
price of $100. Even so, the group now claims to have
gotten orders for a half-million machines for children in
several countries, including Peru, Uruguay, Mongolia,
Rwanda, Haiti and Afghanistan.

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