Kiwi library in trademark fight with US corporation

19:50, Nov 22 2011

A small New Zealand library is fighting to keep its trademark free software from the clutches of a United States corporation.

The Horowhenua Library trust designed the Koha system 12 years ago to manage catalogues and lending information.

It was the first free open source software of its kind and has been sponsored by libraries and volunteers around the world.

However, the trust says an American company named LibLime has hijacked the system and wants to use it for its own private client base.

The company has also been granted provisional rights to the name Koha by the Ministry of Economic Development.

"We did something really good and we gave it away to the world and it's been a glorious thing globally for 12 years," the trust's head of libraries, Joann Ransom, told Radio New Zealand.

"And now this American corporate wants to take it."

Ransom said she was astounded an international company could trademark a Maori word.

In an email message and posting on the Koha website the trust wrote it had spent the past year fighting against the trademark application.

It now had three months to object to the decision, but it would be a struggle.

"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," the message said.

"So, we ask you, the users and developers of Koha, from the birthplace of Koha, please if you can help in any way, let us know."

A fund had been set up to collect donations for the legal challenge.