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LANCOR v. OLPC Case Continues In Nigerian Court 281

Posted by timothy
from the get-your-passport-and-account-numbers dept.
drewmoney writes "According to an article on Groklaw: It's begun in a Nigerian court. LANCOR has actually done it. Guess what the Nigerian keyboard makers want from the One Laptop Per Child charitable organization trying to make the world a better place? $20 million dollars in 'damages,' and an injunction blocking OLPC from distribution in Nigeria."
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LANCOR v. OLPC Case Continues In Nigerian Court

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  • by LM741N (258038) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @07:42PM (#21877768)
    get their money from all those secret accounts that I keep getting emailed about.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by deepershade (994429)
      Why is this post modded as flamebait when in all the other threads about this subject, such a comment would be a minimum +4 funny? Someone needs a sense of humour perhaps?
    • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3@nOSPam.phroggy.com> on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @09:18PM (#21878312) Homepage

      get their money from all those secret accounts that I keep getting emailed about.
      Well, we would, but you see, there are a lot of legal fees involved in that kind of transaction. It's actually easier just to transfer the money out of the country, to an American bank account, and then transfer it back. If you'd be so kind as to give me your bank account number, I could just send you the money, and then you could send it back to me. Obviously I'd be willing to compensate you quite well for your time, all I need is to borrow about $5,000 from you up front to help offset the legal fees, and then I'll be able to take care of everything and pay you $100,000 for your time. Let me know if I can count on your support!

      (No, I'm not really Nigerian.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @07:44PM (#21877780)

    $20 million dollars in damages...
    Tutorial:

    Q: How do you pronounce "$20"
    A: "Twenty dollars"

    Q: How do you pronounce "$20 million"
    A: "Twenty million dollars"

    Q: How do you pronounce "$20 million dollars"
    A: "Twenty million dollars dollars"

    You're welcome.
     
    • Dude, those Nigerians are way ahead of you. They always include how to pronounce those large amounts. For example, from one of my new partners:

      "US$21,320,000.00(TWENTY ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND U.S DOLLARS)"

      Oh, and don't tell anyone, but I'm getting that much in a few days. Payola!
    • A colloquialism is an expression not used in formal speech, writing or paralinguistics. Colloquialims denote a manner of speaking or writing that is characteristic of familiar "common" conversation.

      Source [wikipedia.org]

      A colloquialism, whilst not correct in formal speech or writing, is absolutely correct to use when conveying local speech and writing styles.

      Colloquial English from Nigeria, as evidenced my a ton of spam, tends to use the "$20 million dollars" format all the time. It's entirely likely that the litigant in question used that phrasing in his demands. Though not used in formal speech, it is nonetheless absolutely appropriate in reporting his cultural tendencies and demands accurately.

      Much as we'd love

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @07:50PM (#21877822)
    Nigeria, the land of scammers and con artists. no wonder thier country is in the state it's in.
    • by callmetheraven (711291) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @07:55PM (#21877856)

      Nigeria, the land of scammers and con artists.

      The silver lining of this truth is that the fewer computers Nigerians have the better off the rest of the world is. It would have been difficult and politically incorrect to boycott Nigeria from the OLPC, with a litle luck they just might boycott themselves.
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Well, they certainly got the article wrong. It should have read:

        WE REPRESENT THE ESTATE OF GENERAL ALHAJI ISMAILA "KEYBOARDMAKER" GWARZO. I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS MAY COME AS A SURPRISE TO YOU, AS WE HAVE NOT MET YET, BUT WE HAVE COME UPON ARE SUING FOR THE SUM OF $20,000,000 U.S. DOLLARS (TWENTY MILLION U.S. DOLLARS). IF YOU ARE WILLING HELP US FOR THE SUM OF ONE MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS DEPOSITED IN YOUR ACCOUNT."

        This will probably not make it past the lameness filter. :-D

      • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @11:53PM (#21879134)
        If you're concerned about all the cyberdamage being done around the world, the real truth is that you'd be far better off disconnecting from China, Russia and the United States.

        For all you people that want to pick on Nigeria, not everyone that comes from there is a scammer or a crook. As it happens, my girlfriend is from there (emigrated to the U.S. about 25 years ago) and is a remarkable individual. I consider myself lucky to have her. As an American, I tend to get irritated at all the foreigners here on Slashdot that like to make uninformed generalizations about the United States and its people. Anyone who's ever read any of my posts along those lines knows that. Conversely, I figure it's only fair not to paint everyone in a given country with the same brush, even if they do it to us with monotonous regularity.

        That said, I wouldn't advise answering any Nigerian emails that show up in your inbox.
        • As it happens, my girlfriend is from there (emigrated to the U.S. about 25 years ago) and is a remarkable individual.

          Exactly: she was remarkable enough to get the heck out! It's not the people who come from there who are the scammers and crooks; it's the people who stay.

          (It's the same with all immigrants, by the way. Take illegal Mexican immigrants in the US, for example. Why do they tend to be such hard workers? Because it takes a lot of effort to get here, so the lazy ones stayed home!)

    • by geoskd (321194)

      Nigeria, the land of scammers and con artists. no wonder thier country is in the state it's in.

      I'm not sure why someone doesn't simply go down there with $50k and bribe a judge to find the plaintiffs guilty of some truly dispicable crime, and watch the problem go away on its own... It would be cheaper than paying actual lawyers and, if my understanding of the current situation there is correct, this is the traditional method of settling legal disputes in Nigeria.

      -=Geoskd

      • by Eccles (932)
        Hell, how much would Murder, Inc. charge? The world would be better off without such "people" in it.

        (Note that I mean scammers and sleazeballs, regardless of nationality, not Nigerians.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lisias (447563)
        Let me tell you a little "third world" history. I used to live in Manaus, Amazon, Brazil (where a Free Tax Zone was, one day, promoted by the Military Goverment). That Free Tax Zone gived a lot of power to some goverment officials and, guess what, corruption prospered there. Man, you had to bribe someone for everything to be able to manufacture something there. The situation gone to a point where, even by being 100% legally, you still had to pay a bribe to import your materials - or the official would ho
    • by nbert (785663)
      I'm not going to defend Nigeria's scammers here, but most scams and spam I get still comes from the US (ranked 2nd is Brazil, which is amazing because I live in central Europe and don't even speak Portuguese). Nigeria has become an icon on scamming, even though a very small group has contributed to this image...

      On a side-note: Most of my knowledge of drugs comes from US-spam advertising anti-depressants, libido-enhancing drugs or sedatives. Most of the Brazilian spam is about marketing companies, real esta
    • by arth1 (260657)

      Nigeria, the land of scammers and con artists. no wonder thier country is in the state it's in.

      To be perfectly fair, the same can be said about the US, no?

      I live in the CT, the Nutmeg state, which called so because people here would carve balls out of wood and sell them as nutmeg. Now it's known as the lawyer state, so not a whole lot has changed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ikedasquid (1177957)
      It's Nigeria...hire some local guy for $100 to kill the plaintiffs. Given the corruption, I'd bet OLPC could get away with it and they'd be ridding the world of these corrupt bastards in the process. Good for the kids, good for the poor local guy, good for Nigeria, and good for OLPC. Everybody wins.
  • Cut to the chase (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Divebus (860563) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @07:52PM (#21877830)
    Just send them weapons.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @07:53PM (#21877838)

    Guess what the Nigerian keyboard makers want from the One Laptop Per Child charitable organization trying to make the world a better place? $20 million dollars in 'damages,' and an injunction blocking OLPC from distribution in Nigeria.
    ...and someone to help them get the $20 million dollars out of the country. They are willing to give 25% to anyone who will.
  • by Broken Toys (1198853) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @07:57PM (#21877872)
    When I collect my $25 million from the Honorable Juju Majinki, who is holding these funds in trust, I plan to donate part of those funds to the OLPC defense fund.
  • by canuck57 (662392) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @08:17PM (#21877980)

    I guess OLPC didn't pay the kickback moneys in pricing the deal now the corrupt are howling foul. Goes to show us in the free world how well we are off when institutionalized corruption is so rampant.

    Or is it the government wanting to keep people dumb and stupid so they don't revolt for a democracy?

    Would be interesting to see who bribed who to deprive the children from knowledge. There could be one hell of a story in that.

    • by LordKazan (558383)
      yeah ... because the corporatist religio-supremacist government we have right now in america is really any better at all
  • by realmolo (574068) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @08:18PM (#21877998)
    It's easy to forget that most of Africa's problems stem from the fact that the culture places very little value on human life.

    You know all those "relief funds" that go to poor/starving/fucked African countries? Yeah, most of those funds end up in the hands of the corrupt government leaders and/or military, who are MORE than happy to let everybody starve if it means more cash for them.

    The problems with Africa can't be solved with donations. They can only be solved with armed revolutions. Of course, the U.S. and most of the rest of the world is making too much money off of the exploitation of Africa to actually want to fix things.

    • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @08:45PM (#21878146) Journal
      The problems with Africa can't be solved with donations. They can only be solved with armed revolutions. Of course, the U.S. and most of the rest of the world is making too much money off of the exploitation of Africa to actually want to fix things.

      So, 3.8 million deaths weren't enough [wikipedia.org]?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Not nearly. What's needed is leadership after the bastards in charge are against a wall. But first you have to take out the trash. Yeah, and the africans will probably have to move the borders around - the current ones are externally imposed. One more step towards post colonial functional countries.
    • by Dutch Gun (899105)

      Of course, the U.S. and most of the rest of the world is making too much money off of the exploitation of Africa to actually want to fix things.

      Initially, I couldn't think of any way the US could be exploiting African countries, because we don't have colonies there, they're not in a strategic location, and they aren't worth much as trading partners, unlike China. For the most part, I'd say we ignore them more than anything, except for the extracting Africa's natural resources. One just has to glance at the diamond industry to see mass exploitation in action.

      http://ihscslnews.org/view_article.php?id=162 [ihscslnews.org]
      http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2006/10/78084.ht [indymedia.org]

      • by jacquesm (154384)
        Just speaking for 'the dutch' here (I'm dutch, but I guess I can only speak for myself), if just this one country here would be paying reparations to the Africans for the damage done in centuries past there would be no food here and a very large surplus of cash in Africa. This country basically bankrolled itself on the exploitation of others. Not limited to Africa (where we were in fact not very 'well' represented), but also Surinam, Indonesia and other parts of Asia.
      • They are doing something wrong. They are buying from corrutp dealers. Alot of the money may go to the Jewellers but some is still going to DeBeers. If you at least buy non-diamonds then that won't be a problem. You can still use your favorite jewelers but noy support diamonds cartels.
        I still like emeralds. Everyone else gets Diamonds or even saphires or rubies, or use Ruby. You can have a ring that has ssphire, ruby, and emerald. No matter what kind of light you will always see somthing.
        You could also go fo
      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        For the most part, I'd say we ignore them more than anything, except for the extracting Africa's natural resources. One just has to glance at the diamond industry to see mass exploitation in action.

        It's worth noting that DeBeers, the de facto controlling force in the diamond industry, is a Luxembourg corporation with extensive ongoing anti-trust and price fixing actions by state and federal agencies of the US. For many years, the principals of DeBeers could only enter the US secretly, lest they be served subpoenas (and by extension, later arrested for failure to appear) for their trade practices. DeBeers, the owner of 70% of Africa's diamond mines, has no US holdings, because they'd be subject to sei

    • by couchslug (175151)
      "Of course, the U.S. and most of the rest of the world is making too much money off of the exploitation of Africa to actually want to fix things."

      The Africans who get rich off the exploitation of Africa are not known for wanting to share.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh (602064)
      I know that may people may find this shocking, but Africa is not a country! Really! It is over 50 countries, and almost as many cultures. And believe it or not, some of the countries are not completely fucked up! However, a lot are, and they make better news...
    • by quantaman (517394)

      It's easy to forget that most of Africa's problems stem from the fact that the culture places very little value on human life.

      I'm not sure African culture is particularly different wrt the value of human life, it's just that circumstances have lead to some very extremely unstable situations.

      Colonialization made countries that deliberately didn't conform to tribal borders. If you create a country where not only do the people not have a shared identity, but many of them identify more with people from a neighbouring country, it's a sure recipe for internal and external instability. Note one of the causes of the two world wars in Eur

  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @08:22PM (#21878024)
    If you do read the article, it's a complicated case (as legal cases always are), that essentially boils down to this: Nigeria's officials, including their judges and politicians, are still perceived as being hopelessly corrupt, and by all appearances this is nothing more than attempted legal extortion. The legal claims by which the lawsuit is proceeding is on shaky ground at best. Even if the claims are legitimate, it still is a sad day, when an organization like this is sued by the very people it's most likely to benefit.

    Maybe they aren't ready for a mass introduction of technology - they certainly have shown a compunction for abuse so far. Nigeria is already synonymous with Internet-based moneymaking scams. Does the third world have other, more important priorities instead of laptops, such as basic infrastructure, and a stable and responsive democratic government (most of the world's poorest countries are still ruled by dictators). Complain if you will about the governments of first-world countries such as the US, but if so, you likely haven't seen the corruption of others up close. Visit Mexico for a fine example of what happens when a country with significant potential is rife with corruption from top to bottom. Corruption tends to poison and overshadow even the benefits of democracy and capitalism, as it tends to keep power concentrated in very few hands.

    On the other hand, perhaps an opening of information can help to educate the next generation - to give them more options, and more information, more hope. Just as wireless technology is leapfrogging the old, expensive landline-based infrastucture in many countries, perhaps an infusion of technology can help jump-start an economic surge in places that need it most. I just hope they choose to use it wisely.
    • by Hao Wu (652581)

      when an organization like this is sued by the very people it's most likely to benefit.
      Who says the kids will stay innocent? History says they won't.

      History says they will grow up and use whatever knowledge and skills they possess to better themselves by scamming and extorting others.

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Most people have a point where they are satisfied. Have you noticed that the crime rate in developed countries loosely follow the unemployment rates. Have you notices that most bank robbers are generally poorer working class or worse off people? If isn't because of the inteligence differences between richer people. It is that when the basic needs of a person is met and they have some disposable income, what they are willing to do in order to survive raises to higher levels. They usually wouldn't think about
  • by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @08:25PM (#21878044)
    It appears that the disputed keyboard layout was only used in the development devices and not in the production devices. By this there should be no injunction on the distribution and likely no/minimal payment for infringement.

    From Groklaw: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20071203061340580#c652659 [groklaw.net]

    ----
    If you examine the OLPC Wiki's edit history for the West African (Nigerian) keyboard you can see what Adé Oyegbola is on about. To save you trawling back and forth here it is in a nutshell. Note that where I write "create" I am referring to the Wiki entires - these dates may not correspond to the physical devices.

          1. 2006-08-07 OLPC buy KONYIN keyboards
          2. 2006-11-13 OLPC create Nigerian layout based on KONYIN layout
          3. 2006-11-13 OLPC Nigerian image updated; layout unchanged
          4. 2007-03-02 OLPC image updated to show Beta-3 model; layout unchanged (Original Image March 2nd)
          5. 2007-08-?? LANCORP sends OLPC Cease & Desist Notice
          6. 2007-08-20 OLPC B3 layout revised completely, no longer looks like KONYIN (Revised Image August 20th)
          7. 2007-08-21 OLPC replaces B3 with B4 Ng-MP-Alt layout (more dialect symbols) and new image.

    So this boils down to prototype XOs that used the KONYIN layout. I'm not sure how many prototypes were made with the Nigerian keyboard (I'd guess not many more than the 300 used at Galadima primary school, Abuja) but the total quantities were B1: 875, B2: 2,500, B3: 100, B4: 2,000, C1: 300 (see Development Schedule.

    Since August 2007 with the C1 (pre-production) the West African (Nigerian) layout has been as you see it on the current Wiki page.

    So the crux is that LANCORP are upset over those beta prototypes but the production XOs (and all XOs made since August 2007) have not used the KONYIN layout.
    --
    • I'm not a lawyer but if they sent them a cease and desist letter, and they stopped infringing then they don't have much of a case. The best they can hope for is to get all the infringing models destroyed.
      • by BeanThere (28381)
        It's also very hard to see how this could've damaged them either way, since OLPC doesn't compete AT ALL with their keyboard - you can't exactly buy an OLPC laptop and plug it into your computer to use as a keyboard? Even if you could, it would be stupid to spend $200 on a tiny keyboard instead of $20 on a proper one. It seems pretty ridiculous to claim OLPCs might cannibalise their market, unless you can prove that somebody receiving an OLPC laptop would've bought an entire computer with their keyboard inst
    • by eebra82 (907996) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @09:01PM (#21878220) Homepage
      From a RIAA lawyers perspective, this is just fine. Add a little immorality (deprived children), do some simple math (300 * $66,666 = $20,000,000) and voila!
  • Nigeria (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigBadBus (653823) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @08:38PM (#21878120) Homepage
    I was born in Nigeria, and spent the first 7 months of my life there, so sadly I don't have any memories of the place. My mum and dad have regaled me with tales of corruption (everyone from the gardener to the police it seems) and it sounds like a horrible place in which to live and work. I have no desire to go back.
    • Do you know of any places where I can read more about Nigeria's challenges? (other than randomly picking books from Amazon)
  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Tuesday January 01, 2008 @11:36PM (#21879056)
    LANCOR.

    Yes, I realize there are over 500 languages being used in Nigeria and their official language is English. I just hope the courts in Nigeria can grind a little faster than the courts in America.

    IMO this ploy by LANCOR against OLPC is a carbon copy of the SCO scheme against Linux. I wonder if the company funding LANCOR is the same company that funded the SCO fiasco. [news.com]

  • LANCOR has a point (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384)
    Basically, the idea of OLPC is that we'll just flood Africa with a bunch of practically free notebooks using massive economies of scale.

    When you do that, you basically destroy any chance of a tech industry emerging in Africa, because, there's not going to be any indigenous computer manufacturing. It's always fun to look at free trade and say, geez, look at what the third world is doing to the USA, but, sometimes, you have to look the other way around.
    • by Forbman (794277)
      Hmm... what about the possibilities of people developing new and creative hardware for use with the OLPC? If it has an open interface bus, maybe a clever farmer could utilize several of them and wire his farming operation, and do things that cost US farmers significant chunks of change. No, not a GPS-guided ox plow (really straight rows you got there, Ngebe!), but maybe the farmer being able to use an OLPC to grid out different crop areas.

      Is the keyboard maker suing the OLPC maker going to try and support t
    • LANCOR has no point (Score:4, Informative)

      by BeanThere (28381) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @02:20AM (#21879860)
      You are technically correct, but your point has nothing to do with this LANCOR situation, since their claim is specifically about illegal use of "their" keyboard layout - nowhere does their complaint say anything about being harmed by cheap laptop dumping, nor do they represent any group of people who might have such claim.

      Anyway, there is a crucially important difference between this and other forms of dumping which are actually more wrong: This is basically PRIVATE charity, it's not e.g. the US government dumping cheap computers on the 3rd world to subsidise their own industry; rather, it's private individuals using private money.

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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