Friday, November 25, 2011

Update on NZ Koha trademark

Who would have thought that one little blog post on a Tuesday morning would have generated so much interest and debate and support.

Horowhenua Library Trust have been bowled over by the generosity of a global community who are as concerned as we are at the PTFS New Zealand trade application to register the mark Koha in relation to software.

We have received hundreds of emails offering support for fighting the ‘good fight’. I haven’t quite replied to them all yet – but I am trying . The press have provided balanced coverage with Radio NZ, TV1 and TV3 all reporting the story pretty accurately here, generating much discussion in Maori and mainstream media forums.

We have accumulated donations of about $12k, mostly through $20 and $50 donations from individuals around the globe (including many Americans) and the generosity of the legal profession offering free representation is amazing.

We have accepted the services of Sacha Judd, Andrew Matangi & John Glengarry from Buddle Findlay, assisted by Rochelle Furneaux, who have agreed to work pro-bono for us (bless them all I say). They have been guiding us for the last few days and are busy preparing a objection to the PTFS / Liblime application should one be necessary.

We believe we are well placed now to mount a strong legal challenge and we think we have enough in donations to cover filing fees, document costs and other disbursements. While It goes completely against my nature to turn down donations to Horowhenua Library Trust, in all conscience we should stop the fundraising drive at this stage. Rest assured if is necessary to challenge the PTFS application all the way to the High Court then we may well be coming back cap in hand!

PTFS have issued a press release saying they are willing to hand the NZ Koha trademark over to a non-profit representing the Koha community. That organisation is the Horowhenua Library Trust, elected by the Koha global community, and we would be delighted to accept that offer and add the NZ Koha trademark to the store of other Koha community property we currently hold in trust ie domain names and trademarks. 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. 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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plea for help from Horowhenua Library Trust

Horowhenua Library Trust is the birth place of Koha and the longest serving member of the Koha community. Back in 1999 when we were working on Koha, the idea that 12 years later we would be having to write an email like this never crossed our minds. It is with tremendous sadness that we must write this plea for help to you, the other members of the Koha community.

The situation we find ourselves in, is that after over a year of battling against it, PTFS/Liblime have managed to have their application for a Trademark on Koha in New Zealand accepted. We now have 3 months to object, but to do so involves lawyers and money. We are a small semi rural Library in New Zealand and have no cash spare in our operational budget to afford this, but we do feel it is something we must fight.

For the library that invented Koha to now have to have a legal battle to prevent a US company trademarking the word in NZ seems bizarre, but it is at this point that we find ourselves.

So, we ask you, the users and developers of Koha, from the birth place of Koha, please if you can help in anyway, let us know.

jransom at

Background reading:
  • Code4Lib article: How hard can it be : developing in Open Source [history of the development of Koha] by Joann Ransom and Chris Cormack.
  • Timeline of Koha :development
  • Koha history visualization

Help us
If you would to donate towards the cost of mounting a legal challenge creditcards can be used on paypal below:

Cheques made out to Te Horowhenua Trust can be posted to Levin Library, 10 Bath Street, Levin, 5510. Bank deposits can be made to Te Horowhenua Trust, Westpac Levin, 030667 0299274 00 ref: Trademark.

Otherwise, any discussion, public support and ideas on how to proceed would be gratefully received.