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?
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.