Home Business IT Open Source Koha trademark: top lawyer says Trust has stronger case

A leading ICT lawyer in New Zealand says the Horowhenua Library Trust, which is getting ready to lodge an objection to the registration of the Koha trademark for software by an American defence contractor, has a stronger case than its opponent.


Rick Shera, a partner at Lowndes Jordan Barristers and Solicitors in Auckland, and the first lawyer to have qualified as a New Zealand Computer Society Information Technology Certified Professional, was commenting on the case of the Koha project, an integrated library system.

The project has been in the news since last week after the Trust appealed for donations to mount a defence against the trademark acquisition by Progressive Technology Federal Systems/Liblime.

Koha was set up by the Trust 12 years ago and the code for the project is under the GNU General Public Licence. The trademark was provisionally granted to PTFS on November 25 and the Trust has three months to lodge its objections.

Shera said there were numerous grounds for opposition, all of which stemmed from the fact that this name had been used in to describe the Koha community, project and the software for many years.

"The name therefore is not capable of distinguishing LibLime's services and software from the services and software provided by the community," he said.

"I would go so far as to say that Koha has such a presence within the library and open source communities that the name Koha would also be protected as a well-known mark, effectively owned by Horowhenua Library Trust on behalf of the community."

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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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