Home Business IT Open Source Koha trademark grab: US firm backs down

An American company, which registered the name Koha as a trademark for software in New Zealand, has offered to hand ownership of the name to a non-profit representing the Koha community.

The development follows a massive reaction to the news that the Horowhenua Library Trust, the birthplace of Koha, had appealed for funds to try and regain the rights to its own name after American defence contractor, Progressive Technology Federal Systems/Liblime had been successful in registering the trademark.

Koha is an integrated library system, released under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence; the name is a Maori word meaning reciprocity in giving.

Yesterday, the original developer of Koha, Chris Cormack, had expressed anger and sadness at the trademark grab.

In a statement on the Trust website, spokesperson Joann Ransom wrote that the non-profit representing the Koha community was the Trust itself.

"It would be a very simple matter for PTFS to assign the existing application to Horowhenua Library Trust and we invite PTFS to do so," Ransom wrote.

"The Library Trust has never stopped any Koha user or developer or vendor from carrying out their business. Our track record over the last 12 years of releasing the Koha code and supporting the Koha community to go about its business unimpeded is exemplary and we have no intention of ever changing that approach."

The global coverage of the issue has generated $NZ12,000 in donations and lawyers had offered their assistance on a pro bono basis to object to the issuing of the trademark, Ransom wrote.

Koha is widely used around the world. It is also sold and serviced by many business entities.

Both PTFS and the Trust were contacted for comment two days ago. Neither has responded.



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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.






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