At least one Nigerian is upset about the recently released XO, a low-cost Linux laptop designed by Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child Foundation for developing nations.
Published reports say Ade Oyegbola, founder and CEO of Nigerian-based Lagos Analysis Corp. has filed a lawsuit against the foundation in Nigeria for allegedly ripping off his multilingual keyboard design. The multilingual keyboard, called the Konyin keyboard, encompasses punctuation marks used in many Nigerian languages. It is patented in Nigeria.
The company also intends to sue the foundation in the US for violating its copyrights unless it is paid royalties.
Oyegbola told the Boston Globe that buyers of the keyboard promise not to reverse engineer the software for making a copy. He alleged that MIT's Negroponte bought two keyboard in 2006.
Lagos' chief exec is also reportedly upset that the foundation published the source code for his keyboard design. "They took our code and made it open source for all the world to see," the executive was quoted as saying by the Boston Globe.
The foundation issued a formal statement on Wednesday.
"One Laptop per Child, a non-profit educational organization, has heard that Lagos Analysis Corp. (LANCOR) has sued OLPC in Nigeria, but OLPC has not seen any legal papers related to the alleged suit as of this time" said Robert Fadel, director of finance and operations of the OLPC foundation, in a prepared statement released to the press. "OLPC has the utmost respect for the rights of intellectual property owners. To OLPC's knowledge, all of the intellectual property used in the XO Laptop is either owned by OLPC or properly licensed. Until we have a copy of the claim and have had time to review it, we will not be commenting further on the matter."
Since mid November, the foundation has been running a limited time promotion that allows the general public to buy two XO laptops for $399, one of which is donated to a needy child in a developing nation ($200 is tax deductible) and one to keep for personal use.
It's not clear whether that lawsuit will have any impact on the holiday promotion, which ends on Dec 31, 2007.
[The laptop is reportedly named XO because if turned 90 degrees it resembles a child's profile. But X and O are also symbols used to denote kisses and hugs in some languages]