One Laptop Per African Child Program Sponsored By OLPC Halted

One Laptop Per Child Scheme Sued

For those of you who don’t know about this scheme it is basically an offer being run, known as OLPC in North America, in which people are offered the opportunity to buy a laptop for around $400 and then the same laptop is donated to education in Nigeria and other African countries. Sounds like a good idea?

Well, a Nigerian based keyboard manufacturing company have decided that rather than let these people go on manufacturing low end laptops for next to nothing and giving something to the developing education system, that they will actually sue them instead. The basis of the claim? The design of the keyboards.

Apparently, due to the amount of special characters required to represent things in Nigerian effectively, it is a good idea to have a second shift key. This idea had already been implemented by the aforementioned company. OLPC have given over this functionality to the alt gr key on their keyboards. Now Lagos (the company) are suing OLPC on the grounds that they believe OLPC purchased their keyboards and reverse engineered the software drivers in order to map the exact functionality of their “shit 2″ key onto the OLPC “alt gr” key.

So basically it looks as though if this case goes through, they wont be able to ship any laptops out to Africa until the issue is resolved. All because one company saw that a keyboard worked the same as a new one, and claimed that it was created illegally (note that this hasnt happened between logitech, microsoft, genius who all have “fn” keys for dual mapping the F buttons??)

I think this is an outrage, anyone else got any thoughts on this?

Source: the.moder.thought.process

BU readers know that from time to time our interest will fall on Africa. We have always highlighted the plight of those poorer countries in that vast land space which continues to struggle in its post-colonial period. Africa represents part of our history, and despite those of us who have since been socialized to be Eurocentric in our views, the truth is recorded indelibly in our history for those who would deny it.

Anyway we don’t want to make this a history lesson.

For those of you are not familiar with the ‘One Laptop Per Child Scheme’ you should watch the YouTube Video below which is approximately 4.26 minutes long.

You would have read the blog above that the project has hit a snag. The plan to educate many computer illiterate African children now have to wait on the law courts. There is the parallel which can be made of the rich G8 countries dumping food to ensure the world market price is not negatively affected; at the same time we have people dying hungry in Africa and elsewhere daily.

Life is a bitch isn’t it?


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13 thoughts on “One Laptop Per African Child Program Sponsored By OLPC Halted

  1. “So basically it looks as though if this case goes through, they wont be able to ship any laptops out to Africa until the issue is resolved.”


    That part is rubbish.

    Africa is NOT Nigeria. Nigeria is just ONE of over 50 countries in Africa, and this company is simply one single company in Nigeria.

  2. “Apparently, due to the amount of special characters required to represent things in Nigerian effectively”


    There is no language called Nigerian. Like most other West African countries, most of the people belong to different tribes and speak their own languages such as Igbo, Hausa, Ibibio, Tiv, etc. The link below gives a full list of the different languages spoken in Nigeria, and there are NUFF!!!!

    Perhaps the author meant to say special characters which are common to several West African languages.

    Please don’t fall into the habit of reporting NEGATIVELY and INACCURATELY about Africa which so many others have done.

    Thank you.

  3. Just to recap…

    Nigeria is ONE country in Africa just like Barbados is ONE country in the Caribbean.

    There are many Nigerian LANGUAGES but there is no language called Nigerian, just as there are many Caribbean dialects but there is no dialect called Caribbean.

  4. BU,

    Your caption reads: “One Laptop Per African Child Program Sponsored By OLPC Halted”.

    Why have you changed it from the original website which says: “One Laptop Per Child Scheme Sued”?

    There is a BIG difference between HALTED and SUED, you know?

  5. BU,

    Here is a more believable news report on the situation.

    OLPC Sued Over Multilingual Keyboard

    Wednesday, November 28th 2007 @ 8:40 AM PST

    By Geoff Duncan

    Staff Writer, Digital Trends News

    Nigerian-owned Lagos Analysis Corp (LANCOR) has filed a patent infringement suit over the OLPC XO laptop’ multilingual keyboard.

    Sometimes even the best intentions can’t avoid patent troubles: Nigerian-owned Lagos Analysis Corporation (a.k.a. LANCOR) has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the One Laptop Per Child project and its head Nicholas Negroponte over the multilingual keyboard design used in the low-cost OLPC XO notebook intended to benefit educational systems in developing nations. The suit accuses the OLPC project of willfully infringing on LANCOR’s design patent for multilingual keyboards, and reverse-engineering the company’s software drivers. The initial suit has been filed in Nigeria, and say it plans to bring a similar lawsuit in a U.S. federal court.

    “LANCOR treats its intellectual property as one of the Company’s most important resources,” said LANCOR CEO Adé G. Oyegbola, in a release.

    “The willful infringement of our client’s intellectual property is so blatant and self-evident in the OLPC’s XO Laptops,” said Ade Adedeji of the Nigerian law firm Adedeji & Owotomo a Lagos, retained by LANCOR. “We will have no problem establishing the facts of our client’s case against OLPC in any court of law.”

    LANCOR is seeking damages as well as a permanent injunction barring the OLPC project from manufacturing or selling infringing products.

    Lest this seem like a bolt out of the blue, LANCOR has a substantial history developing multilingual, region-specific keyboards for European, African, South American, and U.S. markets, with its Konyin Multilingual Keyboards currently on sale globally. LANCOR’s suit alleges the OLPC organization purchased two Konyin keyboards (its Nigerian and U.S. models) expressly to reverse engineer the keyboard drivers and infringe on the company’s “Shift2” technology. Although Nigerian-owned, LANCOR was founded in 1994 and is incorporated in Natick, Massachusettes—just down the road from the OLPC’s birthplace at MIT.

  6. I really know nothing about what goes into making a computer part or design a unique or patented component. But, tell me: If you had developed something, and someone ran off with the idea, wouldn’t you want to sue too, regardless of the good for which the idea was being used?

    In my opinion, OLPC and other ventures like it are at not necessarily about philanthropy. The issue is that there’s an untapped market for cheap (low-grade) computers on the African continent. Just because the OLPC laptops are cheap doesn’t mean they won’t be making money. Think about it. If I have a $500 laptop that only one person could afford versus a $100 that 10 people could afford, I would make more from selling (not giving away) the cheap version. I wouldn’t want someone else making money off of my idea. So, I say let the courts decide of something illegal happened.

    As an aside, I was thinking about something like this earlier this week when I read a story about a 40-year feud between two doctors over the use of the first artificial heart. There is very little happening out there that is PURELY about helping others.

  7. Certainly we can recognize philosophical musings when we see it?

    We are well aware of the intricacies of legalese in todays world. The bigger point which we had hoped to make concerns the children in Africa who will continue to suffer. Even if a ‘philanthropist’ will benefit financially why do we so quickly forget the plight of the poor children who will also benefit?

  8. If I am not mistaken, OPLC has – or will soon have – some competition for selling cheap computers to people in the developing world. If they don’t meet the need, their competitors will. So, never fear. The “poor children” of Africa will not continue to “suffer” because OLPC is entangled in a lawsuit.

  9. as we know ;and in my opinion;US and Europe must produce help for Africa ;all of us know why? andi don’t know how?
    the problem is not to introduce one laptop to each African child ;but to develop the education systems without destroying they personality.

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