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.


PTFS has now acquired Liblime. This time for sure.

While I’m loathe to post yet another update about a PTFS/Liblime merger, it seems the deal has now gone through. Past tense.  The press release reads much like the previous one (though significant differences have been noted elsewhere).

There have also already been some slightly raised eyebrows about a particular pledge of PTFS’s “to enhance and maintain the http://www.koha.org site as the focal point for the world’ s Koha activities”. Following disputes of ownership and control of this domain in the past, koha-community.org has now been established as the website for the Koha community.

While having an agreed, single web presence for Koha may take a back seat to other complexities of the Liblime acquisition for now, it would  be great to eventually see the realignment of Koha assets and acknowledgement of the role of the community. But, having said that, I’m  quite keen to see what comes of this new(ish) acquisition.

PTFS now *not* to acquire Liblime

The PTFS acquisition of Liblime is no longer happening. It seems the joint press release on the 13th January announcing the acquisition was a bit premature and the two organisations weren’t able to reach an agreement on the financial terms.  While this announcement appears on the Liblime website, it has not yet been updated on the PTFS news page.

What now for Koha: PTFS to acquire LibLime, new Koha newsletter out

Progressive Technology Federal Systems, Inc. (PTFS) have acquired Liblime, the self-professed “leader in Open Source solutions for libraries”. This is an interesting development in the world of commercial Koha/FOSS support and follows months of controversy over Liblime’s role in the Koha community. PTFS have recently moved into providing commercial support for libraries implementing Koha (although the validity of this has been debated ) but don’t seem to have show a particular affinity for FOSS development previously. The LibLime brand will remain within the PTFS structure to encompass its Koha support division. Library Journal has an interesting article on this acquisition and its implications for LibLime’s ownership of, among other things, the Koha trademark in the US, the Koha.org domain and LibLime Enterprise Koha. The hope is that these Koha assets will be donated back to the Horowhenua Library Trust (HLT), as the Koha community has requested. ByWater Solutions, another key player in the Koha community (who themselves recently joined forces with BibLibre), seem cautiously optimistic about this outcome.The acquisition also includes biblios.net, a promising social cataloguing tool who’s development has faltered a bit recently.

Maybe, just maybe, this shakeup will provide a way out of the controversial forking of Koha but only time will tell.The acquisition is due to be completed by the end of January.

In other (non-commercial) Koha news, the very first Koha newsletter is now out, covering Koha events, news and tips and tricks.