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Nigerian Company Sues OLPC 277

Posted by kdawson
from the split-shift-key dept.
d0ida writes on the continuing troubles at the OLPC Association. Adding to the recent difficulties — the BBC has picked up the litany — a US-based, Nigerian-owned company has now filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against OLPC. Lagos Analysis Corp. claims that OLPC "made unauthorized use of LANCOR's multilingual keyboard technology invention in XO laptops." The suit was filed in Lagos.
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Nigerian Company Sues OLPC

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @12:57AM (#21501359)
    Patents. What will they think of next?
    • 419 (Score:5, Funny)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:39AM (#21504267) Homepage
      Dear Honest Individual
      I am Stella McBride, aged 21years old the daughter of Late Darl Makoba a politician ,gold and software merchant from Angola. I and my mother now residing in Senegal dakar west africa.
      As a result of the on-going problem in our country, we must relocate US$500 million of intellectual property to an overseas account...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @12:57AM (#21501361)
    ... could just ignore Nigerian law and be just fine. After all, it's not like many Nigerians obey anyone else's laws (much less their own).
    • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:10AM (#21501443) Homepage Journal

      As pointed out in a later post, the OLPC project in Nigeria is basically charity.

      If they continue having problems like this, simply don't send any to them. Let LANCOR explain to the Nigerian government and people how their greed and abuse of patent law is screwing up the education of Nigeria's children and putting them at a serious disadvantage to the country's neighbors.

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:22AM (#21501497) Journal
        As pointed out in a later post, the OLPC project in Nigeria is basically charity.

        In a related article [zdnet.co.uk], Gerald Ilukwe, the general manager of Microsoft Nigeria, said that the cost of software is not important, even though he admitted that the average annual salary in the West African country is only $160...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by foobsr (693224)
          the cost of software is not important, even though he admitted that the average annual salary in the West African country is only $160

          /cynical True, because no one can afford the hardware in the first place,

          CC.
        • by rbanffy (584143) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:50AM (#21502773) Homepage Journal
          In other news, Microsoft will announce the licensing LANCOR keyboard input-method technology that is scheduled to be included in future versions of Windows. The amount being paid will not be disclosed, but we will all suspect it will be enough to fund these trolls for years.

          IIRC the MIT Lisp machines had keyboards with "hyper", "super", "meta" and "greek" shift keys. That should be considered enough prior art (although I don't know if Nigerian law agrees with that).
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by duggi (1114563)
        I don't understand the point in giving a laptop to a child yet.

        screwing up the education of Nigeria's children and putting them at a serious disadvantage to the country's neighbors.

        Seriously, Can anybody explain why laptops are so essential for education? Forget laptops, we were not supposed to use even calculators for those lengthy calculations in chemistry in out Undergrad entrance exam. Why then, are laptops so crucial for a child future? Figure this out: I am trying to solve a 1st order differential equation, I would like a pencil and a paper to work this out. NOT a laptop. I cannot how a 10 year old is going to lear

        • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:34AM (#21501827)
          It's like having access to a huge library and the telephone numbers of hundreds of willing teachers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            It's like having access to a huge library and the telephone numbers of hundreds of willing teachers.
            Yeah, a library full of books written in ancient Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphs, and mostly Roman teachers :)

            Unfortunately, most third world kids don't speak the main language of the net, and won't have much use for what's currently on it. Actually, that's probably a good thing...

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Unfortunately, most third world kids don't speak the main language of the net, and won't have much use for what's currently on it. Actually, that's probably a good thing...

              The whole point of being a student is to not have much use for the status quo, and to have a desire to expand upon it.

              Henry Ford (I think) said that if you'd asked American consumers in the 1900's what they'd wanted, they'd have answered, "A faster horse." For whatever faults they had, he and his contemporaries were dissatisfied with the

            • by MrHanky (141717) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:48AM (#21505163) Homepage Journal
              One would imagine Nigerian schoolchildren are taught Nigeria's official language, English.
            • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @12:37PM (#21505941)

              Unfortunately, most third world kids don't speak the main language of the net

              Obviously, you sprang as a fully-formed, English-speaking adult out of Zeus's forehead or something. Or not. No, instead you're just a dumbass who doesn't realize that children can learn, and moreover that the entire point of the OLPC project is learning, and that contrary to what you might think the children are most likely capable of learning English along with everything else!

              Tell you what, read this: India: Hole-in-the-Wall [greenstar.org]. Then try telling me language is a real barrier!

          • by Colin Smith (2679)

            It's like having access to a huge library and the telephone numbers of hundreds of willing teachers.
            All for the bargain price of a year's salary.
             
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Mathinker (909784)

          > I am trying to solve a 1st order differential equation, I would like a pencil and a paper to work this out.

          The equation is: dx/dt = x + cos(x * t)*sin(x + t)

          Good luck. The reality is that the vast majority of 1st order differential equations cannot be solved with pencil and paper, and using numerical algorithms on computers is the best and most general way to solve them.

          But even without this, you're totally missing the point. The student's computer wouldn't be solving the equation for him; it w

          • You had me right up until you said "Leave teaching to teaching professionals." That has to be one of the stupidest things I have heard in a very long time. Please, please, please tell me that you typed that without really thinking it through. Really, we all put our foot in our mouths now and then, so please tell me that you just had a momentary lapse of judgment in the fury of a flame war, and you don't really believe that teaching should only be done by teaching professionals.
            • For what it's worth, I read it more as "Don't tell the teachers how to do their job - they've spent a lot of time on this and have reasons for their preferred solution", rather than "Don't teach anyone anything unless you're a professional educator."
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Belial6 (794905)
                That is not what the parent said, but even if that is what was meant, it would be an incredibly stupid thing to say. Assuming that any professional should go unquestioned is a poor idea. It is particularly bad of an idea to not question teachers. Teaching is not rocket science, and the output of our public schools pretty much speaks for itself. Really, a lot of these public school kids can't read until they are 6 or 7, even after spending a year or two in preschool.

                I have actually had a couple of the
      • by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:39AM (#21501851) Journal

        Let LANCOR explain to the Nigerian government and people how their greed and abuse of patent law is screwing up the education of Nigeria's children and putting them at a serious disadvantage to the country's neighbors.
        that assumes the Nigerian government cares in the first place, they are after all a major part of the problem in regard to education in Nigeria.
      • by samwichse (1056268) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:41AM (#21501859)
        I don't know that this company is actually abusing patent law. It seems like they have an actual invention (a type of keyboard + software that makes it easier to type in "weird" characters). The article even clearly points out that they have a product with this feature they sell.

        Is that a patent troll? Doesn't sound like it.

        I'm not sure about their choice of targets or especially their heavyhanded response to a charity organization though. I can only see this gaining them significant negative publicity and potentially torpedoing a good project.

        Product Link [konyin.com]
        • by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @05:05AM (#21502347)
          But this is what is wrong with patents, the chances of two people having the same idea aren't that slim.

          Patents were invented to protect break through designs which took a lot of time and money from being copied. Two people having the same idea isn't copying.

          The Television was developed by three different people, if Baird had patented it we may have been using mechanical TV for decades.
          • by jacquesm (154384)
            the larger the worlds population the smaller the chance that you have an orginal thought. And with the number of people being networked it is more and more becoming a matter of who can reach the patent office first rather than who should be credited with an 'invention'.

            Try coming up with something TRUELY original that stands by itself.

            I have the illustrious honour of being 'credited' with 'inventing' the live streaming webcam, but in reality there isn't much to that 'invention', it's just a bunch of code wr
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by iainl (136759)
          What's the date on the patent, though? This sounds no different to what the Sinclair Spectrum was doing with its multiple shift keys 25 years ago.
        • by eh2o (471262)
          Looks like one presses ctrl+shift (or equivalent) then some key indicating which accent you want, which induces a modal change. The next character typed acquires the selected accent. This avoids the need to have an accented version of each character, which would be way too many keys for a multi-lingual setup.

          The XO's layouts appear to have the same generic accenting facility, though their layout is totally different.

          Overall the feature is not all that different from the modal use of formatting such as sub
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by pipatron (966506)

            I use this on my Thinkpad in Ubuntu. Pressing for example ^ while holding down the right Alt, enters the "put a ^ on the next character" mode. Right Alt + " + o gives ö. I think it's called "Compose" or something.

            Pretty much necessary since I'm Swedish but I want a US keyboard since the retards that decided where to relocate all the keys necessary for programming placed them so you had to break your fingers to access the [ ] { } / \ | when you use a Swedish layout...

          • Looks like one presses ctrl+shift (or equivalent) then some key indicating which accent you want, which induces a modal change. The next character typed acquires the selected accent. Actually it would be nice to have this on standard US keyboards also; it would make it easier to type the occasional email in French or whatever.

            You already do. Check out the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator [microsoft.com] (for Windows 2000, XP/2003 and Vista).

            In fact, if you're running Windows then you've already got several keyboard m

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hey! (33014)
            So the question becomes what is claimed novel about the invention?

            It's not the modality of the input -- thats a very old idea to anybody who remembers the non-gui interfaces.

            For example, in Emacs the sequence control-x, 8 means the next character is interpreted in "Compose Character Mode" -- a mode that seems to be a superset of the mechanism in question. In ISO Accents mode the various modifiers work more or less as described in the invention.

            So it can't be using the keyboard modally to insert characters t
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jc42 (318812)
          I don't know that this company is actually abusing patent law. It seems like they have an actual invention (a type of keyboard + software that makes it easier to type in "weird" characters).

          The descriptions of their keyboard, including this larger image [konyin.com], aren't too convincing. What they seem to have "invented" is the idea of adding a fifth "Ng" shift key to the conventional four (Shift, Ctrl, logo, Alt). They gave it somewhat unusual placement, stealing space from the usual Shift keys (and making them smal
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        their greed and abuse of patent law is screwing up the education of Nigeria's children and putting them at a serious disadvantage to the country's neighbors.

        Naive Citizen of the World... You have NO awareness of geopolitics!

        If they haven't bribed them, then LANCOR might well be a part of the government.

        Nigeria's government will reward LANCOR for keeping their people enslaved to warlords as prostitutes and child "soldiers".

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Let's try to replace some words...

        As pointed out in a later post, the Linux project in USA is basically charity.

        If they continue having problems like this, simply don't send any to them. Let SCO explain to the US government and people how their greed and abuse of patent law is screwing up the education of US children and putting them at a serious disadvantage to the country's neighbors.

        What's my point ? Nigeria is not one big boat with every people concerned about youth education. It is full of nor
  • So tempted (Score:5, Funny)

    by JohnnyGTO (102952) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @12:57AM (#21501363) Homepage
    to make 419 scam jokes, must resist...
    • This is good news (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JonTurner (178845)
      Maybe Nigeria can become known as a country of greedy patent trolls instead of just a country of internet scammers. As if there's any practical difference.

      OLPC team -- don't get discouraged. As they say, if you're receiving flak, you must be over the target.
      • by NoMaster (142776) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:34AM (#21501567) Homepage Journal

        Maybe Nigeria can become known as a country of greedy patent trolls ...
        Who says they're patent trolls?

        They might actually have a point. It's not like they've sat on this for years - the public release of OLPC laptops is so recent that it's entirely conceivable that it's taken this long to examine them, document any violations, and file suit. And who knows what behind-the-scene negotiations, which may have delayed filing, have taken place between them and OLPC?

        Is it just that the OLPC, being "free" and "open" and using Linux and all, are considered by /. groupthink to automatically be in the right? Or are people suggesting that all patent owners are patent trolls? (A position with which I would largely agree, BTW.)

        Sorry, not picking on you specifically - you're just the first in thread to mention the words "patent troll".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lachlan Hunt (1021263)

          Or are people suggesting that all patent owners are patent trolls? (A position with which I would largely agree, BTW.)

          Not all patent owners are patent trolls. Only those that use their patents to sue people and get in the way of progress and innovation.

          • by QuantumG (50515)
            Ha! So patent owners who do nothing with their patents are ok with you but the others are not? Cause that's what patents are for, suing people to stop progress and innovation.

            • Good patents, which are getting fewer everyday, are designed to help innovation. A company innovates and patents then the company is paid by companies that want use their innovation. If these companies don't want to pay for use then they'll try to innovate themselves. Otherwise a company would innovate then their competition would use the innovation without the cost of R&D. It would be cheaper to take ideas than to come up with new ones.

              RTFA and change Nigerian to Swedish or Japanese and see how you fee
              • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:59AM (#21501935) Homepage Journal
                Yeah, that's the retarded world view where "innovation" means "work around a patent". In the real world, "innovation" means "build on the work of others" and patents are what you use to stop people doing that.

              • Re:This is good news (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @03:46AM (#21502083) Homepage
                Lawsuit states that keyboards were purchased and illegally reverse engineered.

                The only way that could be true is if Nigeria has a seriously defective legal system (quite possible), but even then the "truth value" of that statement would only exist within Nigeria.

                Like someone who illegally wears a t-shirt that says "Vote".

                The phrase "illegally reverse engineered" only weighs in favor of a case of this company being a "patent troll", it is not an argument to refute that label.

                A further note is that all uses of the word "invention" appear to false. According to the article this is a design patent. At least in US law, design patents are not for new useful inventions, design patents are not for functional aspects, design patents are for aesthetic and ornamental aspects. Design patents are about "our product looks cool and distinctive". Design patents are trivial to work around, you just change the shape or arrangement of your product to any of a zillion other equally reasonable equally functional looks.

                ...ok a little Googling and yes Nigerian RD#### patent are "Registered Design" patents. This is not an invention patent, this is an ornamental design patent. It also turns out that there is no official website to look up Nigerian patents, not only is there no website for it but the Nigerian Patent Office official contact point is a Yahoo email address.

                This company is suing a charitable high-tech project to aid 3rd world children, and doing it based on an ornamental patent registered with a government operating from a Yahoo email address. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

                -

                • by emj (15659)
                  You get points for educating us about design patents, intersting idea. The other points is just ranting though, I think it's good that goverments try to keep costs low by using email systems that are low cost for them.
        • by m2943 (1140797) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:42AM (#21501865)
          They might actually have a point

          They might in principle, but in practice, they don't. The OLPC keyboard differs from theirs, and there are decades of prior art in using multiple shift keys to reach multiple languages on one keyboard. Their keyboard is basically the "US International Keyboard" for Windows with the keys rearranged.
          • by rucs_hack (784150)
            If they have a nigerian patent, even if it's obvious elsewhere, OLPC might be infringing it locally. At least it's a patent on hardware, not a combination of mouseclicks...
        • by garbletext (669861) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @03:18AM (#21501969)
          It's a nonprofit organization. This company is literally robbing children, quite likely children from their own country. Maybe they're not patent trolls, but they're clearly assholes.
      • Maybe Nigeria can become known as a country of greedy patent trolls instead of just a country of internet scammers

        That term doesn't make sense. In any other field besides patents, the so-called trolls would be called "dealers" or "brokers". I'm curious--do you call your real estate agent a "land troll"? Do you think commercial Linux companies are "free software trolls"?

        • by jedidiah (1196)
          Yeah.

          If you are talking about the sort of "dealers" and "brokers" that
          lurk around like vultures waiting for bad things to happen to people.
          Those people certainly do get derision heaped upon them.

          Crass asses are called out as such all over.

          You are also confusing real estate agents with real estate speculators.

          "Free Software Trolls" are not out there jacking up the cost of doing
          business, making business impossible to do at any price or jacking up
          the cost of living.
      • Maybe they are going to get the names and e-mail addresses of the people who 'donated' to the OLPC and send them an e-mail telling them how one of their distant relatives died in Nigeria and their assistance is needed to settle the estate.
  • by Gumbercules!! (1158841) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @12:58AM (#21501371)
    ... for sending SPAM from the OLPC
  • by robbak (775424) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:01AM (#21501397) Homepage
    http://www.olpcnews.com/hardware/keyboard/olpc_patent_infringement_scam.html [olpcnews.com] I like how the Nigerian patent office has an @yahoo email address!! Prepare for things to start getting wierd.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by d0ida (1195115)
      Check out the comments on that OLPC News article. There are links to more details of both designs.
  • They'll call off the lawsuit if they receive 20 laptops within the next 2 weeks, and will pay OLPC $5000 on receipt of said laptops...
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:02AM (#21501401) Homepage Journal
    Eben Moglen, invalidator of bioscience patents filed by his own university ("that is what tenure is for") is a public ally of the OLPC. I suspect he'll not only invalidate their patent, he'll drive em one step from bankruptcy.

    • by Alsee (515537)
      he'll drive em one step from bankruptcy

      You mean the company? Or the Nigerian patent office?

      The latter would probably be easier, I doubt the former are run from Yahoo email. [wipo.int]

      -
    • There are open source patent portfolios [wired.com] which have been accumulated specifically to defend open source projects. I am sure that they infringe at least a few, perhaps more. Hit them with infringement suits and a cease and desist order for their products, and I expect they would quickly come to some bilateral licensing agreement.

      Unless this is a company that stands to make more from "certain investors" than from continuing in their normal line of business, in which case we need to make an example by invali
  • by idesofmarch (730937) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:02AM (#21501403)
    Will they demand to be paid via Western Union?
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:02AM (#21501405) Journal
    The purpose of the OLPC project in Nigeria is not to make a profit, but, basically, charity. OLPC is selling them at a loss there.

    I feel this 1st class douchebaggery.
  • DEAR SIR (Score:5, Funny)

    by v_1_r_u_5 (462399) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:03AM (#21501415)
    LAGOS, NIGERIA.

    ATTENTION: THE PRESIDENT/CEO

    DEAR SIR,

    CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPOSAL

    HAVING CONSULTED WITH MY COLLEAGUES AND BASED ON THE INFORMATION GATHERED FROM THE NIGERIAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, I HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO REQUEST FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE TO TRANSFER THE SUM OF $47,500,000.00 (FORTY SEVEN MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS) INTO OUR ACCOUNTS. THE ABOVE SUM RESULTED FROM A PATENT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT, EXECUTED COMMISSIONED AND PAID FOR ABOUT FIVE YEARS (5) AGO BY A FOREIGN CONTRACTOR. THIS ACTION WAS HOWEVER INTENTIONAL AND SINCE THEN THE FUND HAS BEEN IN A SUSPENSE ACCOUNT AT THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA APEX BANK.

    WE ARE NOW READY TO RECEIVE THE FUND OVERSEAS. IT IS IMPORTANT TO INFORM YOU THAT AS CIVIL SERVANTS, WE ARE FORBIDDEN TO OPERATE A FOREIGN ACCOUNT; THAT IS WHY WE REQUIRE YOUR ASSISTANCE. THE TOTAL SUM WILL BE SHARED AS FOLLOWS: 70% FOR US, 25% FOR OUR LAWYERS AND 5% FOR LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE TRANSFER.

    THE TRANSFER IS RISK FREE ON BOTH SIDES. I AM AN ACCOUNTANT WITH THE NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION (NNPC). IF YOU FIND THIS PROPOSAL ACCEPTABLE, WE SHALL REQUIRE THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS:

    (A) YOUR BANKER'S NAME, TELEPHONE, ACCOUNT AND FAX NUMBERS.

    (B) YOUR PRIVATE TELEPHONE AND FAX NUMBERS -- FOR CONFIDENTIALITY AND EASY COMMUNICATION.

    (C) YOUR LETTER-HEADED PAPER STAMPED AND SIGNED.

    ALTERNATIVELY WE WILL FURNISH YOU WITH THE TEXT OF WHAT TO TYPE INTO YOUR LETTER-HEADED PAPER, ALONG WITH A BREAKDOWN EXPLAINING, COMPREHENSIVELY WHAT WE REQUIRE OF YOU. THE BUSINESS WILL TAKE US THIRTY (30) WORKING DAYS TO ACCOMPLISH.

    PLEASE REPLY URGENTLY.

    BEST REGARDS
    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      You forgot the social security number, fingerprints, and your computer's password/IP address.
  • by r00t (33219) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:10AM (#21501441) Journal
    1 Timber Lane, Natick, MA, 01760, USA
    phone 339-987-9249, fax 508-647-4702

    Put that into Google maps and have a look.
    It's a house on a 100 foot square lot.
  • If this helps (Score:5, Informative)

    by GrEp (89884) <crb002&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:13AM (#21501455) Homepage Journal
    Some keyboard internationalization research I did a few years back:

    http://www.public.iastate.edu/~crb002/ie574final.pdf [iastate.edu]

    I bet it kicks their designs all the way to Timbuktu, which isn't too far from Nigeria :)
    • From your research paper:

      For evaluation we focus on two classes of typists. The first will be English language authors. For this corpus we will use the complete works of Shakespeare[27] from Project Gutenberg [23].

      Forsooth! I have sampled of thy research and verily did I find thy conclusions most useful to my plight. 'Tis now true that I can express my pose with heretofore unimagineable prolificity.

      Hast though more learning that though mayst enlighten vs* further? I should, sir, be forever indebted to th

  • middle east we could buy 50 or 60 million of these and spread them out in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Oh, and send a few million to Cuba and Venezuela too.
  • what this is (Score:5, Informative)

    by r00t (33219) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:23AM (#21501503) Journal
    First of all, it's a design patent. It's not a utility patent. Design patents are used for stuff like the flowers on the handles of your silverware. (why that isn't done with copyright I don't know) Design patent rules are different from utility patent rules.

    It's about using two extra shift keys for the non-ASCII characters. On his keyboard, he calls them "Shift2" and "Ng". This is a nice way to do languages that use the latin alphabet with a few abnormal extra characters.

    It's not like the mode switch key used for Arabic. There, you press the key once to switch modes. (more like a caps lock)

    It's not like the dead keys often used for European accents. There, you press an accent key followed by a letter key. The accent key does nothing until you press the letter.

    It's not like the combining accent keys used in Microsoft Word. There, you press the accent key after the letter key. (so the software must display your "A" before knowing if it needs an accent)

    It's not like the fancy stuff used for Chinese, etc.

    He's claiming that two keyboard layouts are in violation. The first one is Nigerian, now used for all of western Africa. The second one is "US International", which is QWERTY plus stuff like the Euro and various odds and ends.
    • Re:what this is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:33AM (#21501825) Journal
      It's about using two extra shift keys for the non-ASCII characters. On his keyboard, he calls them "Shift2" and "Ng". This is a nice way to do languages that use the latin alphabet with a few abnormal extra characters.

      It's not like ...

      It's not like ...

      It's not like...

      It's not like ...


      But it *is* like CTRL and ALT, except that they're just for generating characters rather than calling arbitrary functions.

      (Btw, anyone who refers to a new interface for accessing more characters from the same keys as "technology" is an idiot.)
    • Re:what this is (Score:4, Informative)

      by rxmd (205533) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @06:05AM (#21502575) Homepage

      It's about using two extra shift keys for the non-ASCII characters. On his keyboard, he calls them "Shift2" and "Ng". This is a nice way to do languages that use the latin alphabet with a few abnormal extra characters.

      It's not like the mode switch key used for Arabic. There, you press the key once to switch modes. (more like a caps lock)

      It's not like the dead keys often used for European accents. There, you press an accent key followed by a letter key. The accent key does nothing until you press the letter.

      It's not like the combining accent keys used in Microsoft Word. There, you press the accent key after the letter key. (so the software must display your "A" before knowing if it needs an accent)

      It's not like the fancy stuff used for Chinese, etc.

      It is like the use of the right Alt key on European keyboards to get extra accented characters. The key is called "Alt Gr" on many European keyboards. On a German keyboard, you press Alt Gr + some other key to get things like the Euro sign, the backslash, the pipe character, the tilde character, curly braces, or the @ sign.

      I've written a couple of keyboard macros back in the WordPerfect days that used Alt Gr plus other keys to get extra accented characters for transcription of Arabic (and, ironically, for Yoruba, which is one of the major languages of Nigeria), which I'm ready to submit as prior art if it should have to come to that.
      • by root_42 (103434)

        It is like the use of the right Alt key on European keyboards to get extra accented characters. The key is called "Alt Gr" on many European keyboards. On a German keyboard, you press Alt Gr + some other key to get things like the Euro sign, the backslash, the pipe character, the tilde character, curly braces, or the @ sign.

        Exactly. And it is similar to the "US intl" layout in X11. Where you can access different international characters with the right ALT key (like the umlauts etc). And I think that has b


  • See here [chillingeffects.org] for a very nice review of US law regarding reverse engineering.

    I wonder what "illegal reverse engineering" means under Nigerian law, seeing as how it is generally permitted in the US.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuantumG (50515)
      What's even more silly is that a patent is supposed to describe exactly how something works so people don't *need* to reverse engineer it.

  • It looks like someone has seen an opportunity to grab attention and/or get some quick buck in a settlement. Remember guys, it's Nigeria!
  • Could be legit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperRenaissanceMan (1027668) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:41AM (#21501593)
    From TFA: "LANCOR's technology named Shift2 keyboard technology has been used to create a new class of region specific based keyboards called KONYIN Multilingual Keyboards, which are currently on sale globally." I don't think you can be sure to call this one a patent troll. They are actually producing a product, not just holding a patent for the sole purpose of the suit.
    • Someone needs to start digging and see how many OS patents they infringe. That is what open source companies obtained their patent portfolio for in the first place (http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/05/opensource_pate.html)

      They will probably come to some bilateral arrangement if they are hit by a couple of hundred infringements and a cease and desist order themselves.
  • I am pretty sure there are only a few ways to do a multilingual keyboard. It should not be something that you can patent.

    Not only do I think this patent shouldn't be valid but these guys are suing whats basically a charity organization? Please!

    As far as "not listening to nigerian law" it should be noted that they have an american office and they are suing in american courts using manipulating the flawed american patent system

    I think some of your presedential hopefuls should make patent trolls an
  • No good deed goes unpunished.
  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:14AM (#21501745) Homepage Journal
    There may have been a translation error, leading the Nigerians to believe OLPC was an acronym for One Litigation Per Child.

    Dan East
  • Remind me not to incorporate any more businesses in Lagos; could well be Nigeria's version of our 9th Circuit.
  • by m2943 (1140797) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:37AM (#21501839)
    Here is the US international layout for OLPC:

    http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Keyboard_layouts [laptop.org]

    Here is the Konyin layout for the US (you have to click on VIEW LAYOUT under UNITED STATES):

    http://www.konyin.com/?page=home&menuitem=1 [konyin.com]

    Maybe Konyin thinks that they invented making additional languages/scripts/special characters available via additional shift characters, but that's ridiculous; here is the Windows US International keyboard layout:

    http://www.usna.edu/LangStudy/US-InternationalLayout.html [usna.edu]

    See, lots of special characters via AltGr.
  • Prior art? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ozbird (127571) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @02:52AM (#21501909)
    How are the KONYIN keyboard's multiple shift keys any different to ye olde AltGr [wikipedia.org] key to access alternate - usually international - characters?
    • by jrumney (197329)
      Apparently, the unique thing about the KONYIN keyboard, is that it can send 2 Unicode codepoints for a single keypress (for some keys, when Shift2 is held down). But the OLPC keyboard doesn't work like this, it uses standard PC scancodes and translates to Unicode at the XKB level, so that can't be what they are complaining about.
  • OLPC, the current best proof that no good deed goes unpunished.
  • As lead council I am tasked with getting hard working folks for a class action lawsuit. In fact there is money to be paid out to all comers, now. For a small down payment of $10,000 you can get a share of the 15 billion we have currently collected. Please email me your personal information, social security number, payment information etc so you can receive a one time lump sum payment.

    Bob Cummings Esquire
    Nigerian Law Council Partnership Program
    1 Important Legal Way
    Sokoto Nigeria
  • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @04:48AM (#21502269)
    It strikes me as remarkably inconvenient that there just happens to be a company which is US-based, Nigerian owned and happens to have a patent on something which so directly affects to OLPC project. How many companies can there be which fit this description?

    Putting my tinfoil hat on for a moment, it's not possible that this company is a stooge for Intel or Microsoft, is it?
  • Why sue a company that is trying to do some good in the world?

    Screw patents, patent holders should be forced to prove that the alleged infringer has seen their product and then copied it.
  • The suit was filed in Lagos.

    Can't someone just move some of those colorful little bricks around to change the suit?
  • by TooTechy (191509)
    Lancor - hosted by ipowerweb.com. Administrative contact, bscinternational.com
    konyin.com - hosted by ipowerweb.com Admin contact, oluwole@lancorltd.com

    For an IT company to not actually have their own web server ... and to have their admin contact external (a MS partner BTW)...

    Thoughts? How big is this company (they don't have a link on their web site to their Nigerian counterpart. They do have a link to Konyin.com, no drivers available for download there. Anyone got them?

    I wonder how much email traffic has
  • Microsoft is funding Lagos Analysis Corp. in order to slow down the OLPC initiative. Didn't Microsoft do something similar in the SCO/Linux law suits?

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