Patent infringement claim against OLPC device

November 28, 2007

Not related to the EEE as such, but, interesting news that the owners of a patent relating to multilingual keyboard technology are suing the OLPC project for wilful patent infringement (“wilful” being important, because of the possibility of treble damages under US patent law), and illegal reverse engineering. Lagos Analysis Corp’s (“LANCOR”) claim is pretty specific, as it accuses the OLPC project of purchasing two machines containing their proprietary technology, and extracting it for use in the OLPC. LANCOR is seeking “substantial damages” and a permanent injunction against distribution of the allegedly infringing product.

There is more about this on MarketWire, although, readers should note that this is a press release from LANCOR.

This is an interesting case, as Nigeria, where LANCOR is situated, is one of the beneficiaries of the OLPC project. On the one hand, LANCOR wishes to protect its intellectual property, but, on the other hand, one can’t help but wonder whether suing what is essentially a charitable project is in the overall best interests of the company – would a royalty-free licence to the relevant code, allowing the OLPC project to continue distribution, perhaps in return for some form of advertising / presence in the OLPC device itself, be a better option?