About the Koha decision, open source and trademarks

Some rights reserved by verbeeldingskr8 on Flickr
Some rights reserved by verbeeldingskr8 on Flickr

You may have seen the tweets or emails circulating asking for help for the Horowhenua Library Trust as they fight to keep the right to use the name ‘Koha’ for the library system they developed and have worked on for the past 12 years. Koha is a Te Reo Maori word which you can read more about on Wikipedia. PTFS/Liblime applied for a Trademark on Koha in New Zealand and this application has now been approved by the Maori Advisory Board.

You can read some of the background discussions between PTFS and the Horowhenua Library Trust Koha Subcommittee attempting to avoid this current situation in the HLT Koha Committee report.

The last few years has seen various disputes between Liblime (and now PTFS/Liblime) and the Koha community. There’s a really succinct summary of these on LWN.net but at the heart of this latest development is the fact that the organisation that developed (with Katipo Communications) and shared the Koha library management system under an open licence is at risk of no longer being able to use the name they gave it. And, for an example about how trademarks *could* be managed for open source projects, last year’s announcement about the transfer of the WordPress trademark to the non-profit WordPress Foundation provides a welcome counterexample. Eric Hellman also wrote an article about the GPL open source software licence and software trademarking that sums up some of the main issues back when Liblime was first acquired by PTFS.

HLT are seeking help to challenge this latest decision, which you can read more about on the Library Matters blog.

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