One Laptop Per Child Accused of Patent Infringement

November 29th, 2007 - 5:53 am ICT by admin  

Nigeria is really not getting along with Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child initiative these days. First, OLPC spokesman Walter Bender got into a war of words with Nigeria’s education minister, who questioned the need for the groundbreaking computers. Now a Nigerian company is claiming the laptop’s multilingual keyboard violates its patents.

“What is the sense of introducing One Laptop per Child when they don’t have seats to sit down and learn; when they don’t have uniforms to go to school in, where they don’t have facilities?” Education Minister Dr. Igwe Aja-Nwachuku asked during a BBC interview Tuesday.

“We are more interested in laying a very solid foundation for quality education which will be efficient, effective, accessible and affordable.”

‘Small Thinking’

That led Bender to accuse Nigeria and many other countries of “small thinking.” He said that education in many developing world countries is failing and that “change has to be dramatic.”

“You’ve got to be big, you’ve got to be bold. And what has happened is that there has been an effort to say ‘don’t take any risks — just do something small, something incremental’. It feels safe but by definition what you are ensuring is that nothing happens,” Bender told the BBC.

On Wednesday, Lagos Analysis Corp. filed with the Nigerian High Court a patent infringement suit against OLPC, saying the organization had reverse-engineered its patented four-language keyboard. CEO Ad Oyegbola called for OLPC to reach a settlement, saying he might file an additional infringement suit in the United States.

Charges of Reverse Engineering

OLPC could have “sought a license and gotten it for a minimal fee,” he said. “We’re hoping … they can come to their senses, and we sit down and come to a reasonable settlement.” Despite attempts, Oyegbola said, Lagos has not received a “reasonable response” from OLPC.

In a statement,…

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