Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Open Source Your Rights Online

Small OSS Library Project Battles US Corporation 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-in-a-name dept.
New submitter abesottedphoenix writes "The rural library responsible for the first open source library catalogue is under attack from defence contractor PTFS. More than a decade after rolling out Koha (which we've discussed in the past), they now find themselves in a battle to keep a generic Maori term within the public domain. The story is also covered at Radio NZ. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Small OSS Library Project Battles US Corporation

Comments Filter:
  • generic Mori? (Score:2, Informative)

    Am I confused today, or did you mispell Maori?

    That said, Trademark only applies in a specific field. If whoever it is has a Trademark for anything other than a library, his trademark in no way impacts the small library in question...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I know it is pointless to say - but RTFA. PTFS wants the trademark for their fork of the library software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by avgjoe62 (558860)

      They would have spelled the term correctly, but to do so violates someones trademark on the term "M-a-o-r-i"

      • by polymeris (902231)

        Not even "Māori" displays correctly. How come slashdot still doesn't support non ASCII characters? At this point it is probably more of a tradition thing than difficulty of implementation, right?

      • by DMFNR (1986182)

        Posting to cancel wrong moderation.

  • Mori? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ratguy (248395) <ryanjaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @07:59PM (#38143010) Homepage

    I think you mean Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Of course there are no Maoris on slashdot.
      • Re:Mori? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:30PM (#38143278) Homepage Journal

        There may well be Maoris on Slashdot. You can't see tattoos over the Internet. Now, there are probably no Moa on Slashdot and I hope there are no Keas (they're terrorists, I tell you!), but that's ok, there are enough bird-brains as it is. I have great respect for the Maori and it is intensely sad that I lost all of my mementos from my year in New Zealand after a storage place fire.

        Back to the issue at hand. It is completely reprehensible that a "common word" (because it IS a common word in New Zealand) can be trademarked at all. That is not acceptable, in and of itself. It is a flagrant abuse of the system, relying on the fact that Americans are not very up on foreign cultures. I am increasingly of the opinion that words should not be trademarkable at all. A "trademark" is, after all, first and foremost a mark. From the Sumerians to the Victorian English, this has been a stamp, a unique symbol that denotes the origin and guarantees authenticity. Arguably, the seals produced by stamps and signet rings serve the same function.

        You can always make a new symbol. Creativity is endless. But you can't create a new language every time foreigners decide to trademark words from it.

    • Re:Mori? (Score:4, Funny)

      by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:31PM (#38143298)
      Maybe he means Moria, the abandoned home of the Dwarves.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No No, he means Mario that Italian plumber that jumps on turtles.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        No no... he means Boatmurdered where the dwarves were obsessed with cheese, talking with dwarves, and the killing of dwarves by pachyderms.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      It's spelled "Mario". The indigenous peoples of New Zealand are a proud race with a noble history of cannibalism and plumbing.
  • by richlv (778496) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:06PM (#38143066)

    ok. usually i can understand /. summary immediately. sometimes i have to read the article. sometimes i have to do some extra research.

    but this summary just does it - it makes so much "no sense" that i have no fucking idea what is it about and i'm just going to skip the topic.

    • but this summary just does it - it makes so much "no sense" that i have no fucking idea what is it about

      Like Google News, Slashdot doesn't have an editor. You wand your submission accepted, all you need to do is hit ther geek's hot buttons in your headline.

    • by nadaou (535365) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @09:34PM (#38143786) Homepage

      > but this summary just does it - it makes so much "no sense" that
      > i have no fucking idea what is it about and i'm just going to skip
      > the topic.

      which is real a shame, because what is happening is nasty, evil, theft (in the correct IP usage of the term) from a long established volunteer community by newly arrived greedy corporate. Or just take a moment to listen to the linked 2 minute mp3?

      here is the real project's "about" page: http://koha-community.org/about/ [koha-community.org]

      "Koha" is a Maori word meaning gift (often in a quid quo pro sense). Note that Wikipedia lists it as a custom. It is a truly wonderful name for a GPL'd project for the public good.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koha_(custom) [wikipedia.org]

      read the mailing list plea from the librarian here:
      http://lists.nzoss.org.nz/pipermail/openchat/2011-November/008940.html [nzoss.org.nz]

      a blog post:
      http://news.tangatawhenua.com/archives/14545 [tangatawhenua.com]

      and the thread that follows.
      http://lists.nzoss.org.nz/pipermail/openchat/2011-November/thread.html#8943 [nzoss.org.nz]

      favourite quote from the ensuing thread:

      Oh, and that you can't win a Wikipedia fight against librarians.

      listen to more audio from NZ public radio than what's in the /. submission here:
      (Scroll down to the Ogg @ 9:44 am)
      http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon [radionz.co.nz]

      The project was founded by a small country town library in 1999 when the Y2K bug was taking out their existing solution and they couldn't afford to buy another one. Since then it has grown to be a large and wonderful FOSS success story. Until last year, when an associated company that held the domain name and provided commercial support got bought out by a big corporate bully, who took ownership of the DNS and domain name, taken over the home page, obfuscated links to and existence of the community (which has had to rush out and register http://koha-community.org/ [koha-community.org] instead of their original koha dot org site), and now are trying to block the community from being able to use their own name, on their own turf. It seems that Liblime has grabbed the trademark already in the US; the original koha-community.org group after they got over their shock was able to get in first in the EU, but not Liblime (a US company) has moved in to grab it in the community's home country of New Zealand.

      PTFS/Liblime's actions here are truly despicable, and if I were a customer I'd have to wonder if they are willing to screw over the people who built up the project from nothing, what is stopping them from screwing me over too?

      Please visit the Koha-community.org [koha-community.org] site, read the plea: http://koha-community.org/plea-horowhenua-library-trust/ [koha-community.org]

      and help out their non-existent legal fund with a small donation:
      https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FQ6JH3L48LV5Y [paypal.com]
      (your dollar goes far here; they are a registered legal non-profit, paypal's freezing of funds typically happens to unregistered projects who are basically ignoring tax laws, so they should be safe from that)

      written article here:
      http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/91830/lawyer-labels-overseas-trademark-of-'koha'-offensive [radionz.co.nz]

      • by bhagwad (1426855)
        Wow - there has to be an easier way to explain this. A two three sentence summary perhaps? Like what the problem was before, what great thing was conceived of and what the threat currently is...
        • by theVarangian (1948970) on Wednesday November 23, 2011 @01:35AM (#38145258)

          Wow - there has to be an easier way to explain this. A two three sentence summary perhaps? Like what the problem was before, what great thing was conceived of and what the threat currently is...

          Hmmm... simple... let me try.

          1. 1) Once upon a time a small rural library could not afford to upgrade their library management software due to a nasty bug.
          2. 2) The small rural library then got the bright idea to set up a FOSS project aimed at creating a free alternative library management software system and named it Koha.
          3. 3) The Koha library management software project became a big FOSS success.
          4. 4) Due to a variety of reasons the homepage and domains of the Koha project were taken over by a bunch of US American corporate weasels called PTFS.
          5. 5) The US corporate weasels then started a campaign aimed at convincing the world that they have taken over the Koha project and are the only legitimate source of Koha software and support. Basically they are trying to hijack the Koha project.
          6. 6) This campaign by PTFS has now gone so far that they have trademarked the word Koha. in New Zealand for no other reason than to deny it's use to the Koha foundation.
          • by bhagwad (1426855)
            Thank you! Now I understand.
          • +1 ThisGuyNeedsToBeAnEditor
          • by Obelos (2515328)
            4) The actual story is not particularly weasely. HTL contracted Katipo Communications to write Koha in 1999. Katipo sold all of its Koha-related assets (including all its Koha copyrights and the koha.org domain) to LibLime in 2007. With the blessing of the community, LibLime also reserved the US trademark in 2008. The community split in 2008/2009. LibLime then sold its assets to PTFS in 2010, just after submitting the application for NZ trademark. 5) PTFS/LibLime does not try to convince anyone that theirs
            • Mistake in your description of events.

              5) PTFS/LibLime does not try to convince anyone that theirs is the only Koha distribution.

              Horsepoop. By asserting their trademark, they are *in fact* asserting that they are the only Koha distribution. That's what a trademark does.

      • So... PTFS and Liblime need their Wikipedia pages updated with something coherent that documents this mess. That way the Google test will always reveal such actions that reflect poorly on the company (i.e. they deal falsely and unfairly, thus their reputation is damaged by their actions--make this public and clear to enforce that damage).
    • by richlv (778496)

      thank you, slashdot, for reviving some old comment of mine and attaching to this article. for the record, this comment was originally to some other article where summary indeed didn't make sense (this one actually does).\

      it was a bit of a surprise, though. started reading the comment. thoughts go like this :
      "hey, what's this guy (there are no girls on /.) having a problem understanding, this was a pretty clear summary... hmm, i think i have seen this somewhere before... OMGWTF"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:09PM (#38143096)

    Kia ora from Wellington NZ
    Maori was definitely misspelt
    link to wikipedia article on the Maori term Koha
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koha_(custom)

    • by Eythian (552130)
      The real spelling can't be written on slashdot. If I write it correctly, it comes out "Mori." Or, in LaTeX: M\-{a}ori (IIRC.) It seems plausible that the editing process swallowed a macron.
  • Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by karit (681682) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:12PM (#38143130) Homepage Journal

    Basically a company who has extended and NOT given back to the community is now wanting the trademark the name of the Open Source product.

    • That's what I got out of it...

      Not sure what the hell the defense contractor has to do with anything? LibLime appears to be the guilty party here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's what I got out of it...

        Not sure what the hell the defense contractor has to do with anything? LibLime appears to be the guilty party here.

        Liblime sold themselves to PTFS (a defense contractor) in 2010

        'LibLime was founded in 2005, as part of Metavore Inc.[2] and purchased by Progressive Technology Federal Systems, Inc. (PTFS) in 2010.'
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liblime

    • by Anonymous Coward

      here's a very interesting recent discussion about this - with comments from PTFS/Liblime

      http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/the-exemplar-of-stupid-koha-vs-liblime-trademark/

    • by Obelos (2515328)
      This is patently false. LibLime's Koha git repo is available on Github: https://github.com/liblime/LibLime-Koha [github.com]. HLT community members have even submitted pull requests to our project.
    • by Jonner (189691)

      Basically a company who has extended and NOT given back to the community is now wanting the trademark the name of the Open Source product.

      If LibLime has distributed Koha binaries, but not source, they have violated its Copyleft license, which is much more serious than a trademark dispute. Is there any evidence they've done so? LibLime's FAQ [liblime.com] says

      Q. LibLime Koha is open-source software; doesn’t that mean it’s free?
      A. Yes, LibLime Koha is open source and so LibLime Koha is free, in fact you can download it yourself from a number of sites, including here. LibLime is an open source support company and we were established in 2005 to work with libraries that wish to run LibLime Koha but do not have the internal resources to manage a system.
      LibLime offers the following services:
      -Professional project management for your LibLime Koha implementation
      -Set up and implementation of your LibLime Koha instance
      -LibLime Koha Training
      -Migration of legacy data
      -Hosting and support (help desk and online ticketing system)

      • by Obelos (2515328)
        Koha is written in Perl. There's no (practical) way to distribute a binary. We make our code freely available through Github.
  • Better summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:23PM (#38143216)

    A commercial company that has been reselling an open-source product now wants to claim ownership of the product itself. Because the current owners are not well funded, there is a prospect that they will be able to do so.

    The current owners, being incredibly naive, claim to have been under the impression that foreigners couldn't trademark Maori words. (Possibly they've never heard of Coca-Cola [wikipedia.org]. Even now, they're only trying to fight the trademark application in New Zealand, so I'm not sure what (if any) effect that would have internationally.

    • by Old Wolf (56093)

      'Poor' is a better word than 'naive'. They're just a small library, they cannot afford things like legal fees. Hopefully the EFF will step in here.

  • The history (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @08:25PM (#38143234)

    Short version: PTFS ended up owning the community domain name and a trademark for Koha due to some weird stuff that has happened over the past 12 years. PTFS is not well regarded by the general community due to how they try to confuse users into thinking theirs is the only version, their practices which (from what I can tell) make versioning a nightmare, and their lack of regard for the community. The community does not want them to gain any more ground.

    • by Obelos (2515328)
      This is probably the fairest assessment I've seen, save that PTFS doesn't "confuse users into thinking theirs is the only version" any more than the HLT community does.
  • Defense contractor? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sure, PTFS counts some DoD entities among its clients, but it's odd to refer to a company that has clients like the Holocaust Museum and the National Library of Medicine as a defense contractor.

    That being said, it's super shady for a company that got started solely to provide end-user support for an OSS system to try and trademark that system's name.

  • Can someone explain to me how this isn't a violation of the copyleft GPL Koha is distributed under?
    • by Jonner (189691)

      The dispute has nothing to do with copyright (and therefore Copyleft) AFAICT. I don't see any claim that LibLime is distributing proprietary derivatives of Koha. This is only a trademark dispute. If LibLime is trying to gain trademark protection for a term they adopted from the already existing project, that is an attempt to mislead at best and commit fraud at worst, but it has nothing to do with the GPL.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. rural library responsible for the first open source library catalogue
    2. defence contractor PTFS
    3. More than a decade after rolling out Koha
    4. in a battle to keep a generic Mori term within the public domain

    Is Koha a generic Mori (Maori) term? What is a library catalog? Like a public library catalog of the books in the library? Who is PTFS?

    As far as the TM goes, If I make up a word called Azkio but it turns out to be a generic term in a language that less than .0002% of the people in the world would recog

    • by NZKiwi (317525)

      Is Koha a generic Mori (Maori) term? What is a library catalog? Like a public library catalog of the books in the library? Who is PTFS?

      As far as the TM goes, If I make up a word called Azkio but it turns out to be a generic term in a language that less than .0002% of the people in the world would recognize does that mean a TM is invalidated?

      Koha is the Maori word for "gift" - It's about as generic as the english word "gift". An example in the New Zealand context would be Te Papa Tongarewa (translates as "container of treasures" - the National Museum of New Zealand) having a box by the door labelled "Koha" in the hope you'll put some money in it to help support the museum and to show your appreciation for the place.

      If you ask almost any New Zealander what Koha is (that's approximately 4 million people) they'd nearly all say it means gift or d

    • a language that less than .0002% of the people in the world would recognize does that mean a TM is invalidated?

      By my rough calculation our 4 million people gives us 0.057% of the world's population recognising the phrase :-)

      The basic fact is that this is an extremely arrogant move. A company is taking a "common word", which ironically means gift, and using it for commercial gain for open source software that was created in the very country they're applying their trademark in.

      The Maori meaning of "koha" is more complex than Gift - and if you start to understand the moral obligation that underpins true "koha" - you re

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      If I make up a word called Azkio but it turns out to be a generic term in a language that less than .0002% of the people in the world would recognize does that mean a TM is invalidated?

      In the country whose native language it's a generic term in, I would imagine so, yes.

  • sounds like a job for Anonymous. ;)

  • by bdwoolman (561635) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:17PM (#38144102) Homepage

    IANAL But the Tabasco story is a famous and an interesting trademark case [vegastrade...torney.com] .

    Since Tabasco is a state in Mexico and a name for a pepper, McIllhenny understandably had a hard time cementing its claim. Right or wrong, McIllhenny vigorously defends this hard-won mark to this day.

    • but this kind of behaviour is not OK in New Zealand. What if someone from NZ snuck over and trademarked "Honour" (or "Honor" on your side of the pond)?

      Frankly, I'm fed up with corporations behaving like this then bleating that they are only doing it to secure their profits which justifies anything as you know. Time they got taken down a peg or two.

  • Instead of spending their own resources to dispute the trademark, they ought to consider if the trademark covers their own domain of application - similarly to how Apple Inc and Apple corps are both trademarks built on a single English word, but technically don't cover the same area - one is a trademark on an IT brand, the other is a trademark on a music store, and one should not be able to confuse one for the other (although they have fought over the name, needlessly really). Is LibLime asking them to C

    • by ColaMan (37550)

      I am unable to adequately express my dismay regarding your sheer ignorance of the situation at hand.

      So, if you could just punch yourself in the face, just as hard as you can, that'd be great. Well, it wouldn't be great for *you*, but I'd feel a whole lot better knowing it had been done.

      Thanks.

    • by andydread (758754)
      The trademark was originated by the project that invented the software at the poor library in NZ. Because the software can be distributed for free anyone can download it and re-distribute the software. So what Liblime did was downloaded the software and because the poor owner of the software failed to register the trademark worldwide Liblime registered the trademarks. And they are now marketing the trademark as theirs totally hijacking the real project's trademark.
      • by Jonner (189691)

        I'm pretty sure LibLime's application for trademark was the first (and probably only) one. It seems that the originators of the project didn't apply for a trademark because they didn't think the generic word "Koha" could be trademarked. Horowhenua Library Trust is not saying they should hold the "real" trademark but that the trademark shouldn't exist at all.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      they're the same product. they can't co-exist.

      it's like ubuntu going and trademarking "debian" to fight loosing downloads to debian-mint.

  • I'm from Tasmania, where our most recognisably tasmanian icon the Tasmanian Devil(TM) (since we killed the Tigers) is trademarked by a US company
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Devil_(Looney_Tunes) [wikipedia.org]

  • Let face it if you start any kind of business, blog or public project you now need to get it trademarked from day one to prevent the vultures from circling you a decade later in the unlikely event that you are even a little successful. $275 per class for a TEAS Plus application that meets the requirements of 37 C.F.R. 2.22 and 2.23 $325 per class for an application filed electronically using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) $375 per class for an application filed on paper Tha
    • by unitron (5733)

      Are you sure it's not the "businesses" that hire those lawyers who are really to blame?

  • This summary and the ensuing discussion are so full of dumb and FUD, it's hard to know where to start. I'll list a few bullets:

    1) If managing one of the Navy's library catalogs makes PTFS/LibLime a "defense contractor," that's a serious diffusion of the term.
    2) PTFS/LibLime has held the same trademark continuously in the US for several years without any attempts to limit its use. The same applies to this trademark.
    3) PTFS/LibLime's project is also OSS: https://github.com/liblime/LibLime-Koha
    4) The LibLime c

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.

Working...