A tiny New Zealand library service is taking on an
American corporation it says has snatched its computer system and
trademarked its Maori name.
The Horowhenua Library Trust developed
an open-source software programme called Koha 12 years ago which is
used free by hundreds of libraries, churches, schools and companies
around the globe.
But the rural trust says US firm LibLime has
been granted provisional rights to the name Koha by the Ministry of
It claims the company plans to adapt the
Koha system for its own private client base, without sharing its
adaptations with all the other users.
"Here we've been sharing
this incredible resource for free with the world for so long and along
comes this massive company that just barges in and tries to take us,"
the trust's head of libraries, Joann Ransom, told NZ Newswire.
"We just can't stand by and let this happen."
said she was shocked the ministry had allowed a Maori word, especially
one effectively celebrating freedom, to be trademarked by a foreign
"I'm offended as a Kiwi that this American corporate (that)
doesn't even do business in this country wants to trademark this word.
How can we let this happen?"
She said LibLime had long been
involved with Koha, building a big business around installing the
programme into US public libraries. But since a buyout by archive
software giant PTFS, it had been making more aggressive attempts to
adapt and claim ownership of the community software.
fighting this for two years but they don't seem to get the message -
we're not for sale. We can't be bought. We're owned by libraries and
organisations everywhere so hands off."
The trust has three months to lodge an objection.
Ransom said over $5000 had been donated in the last 24 hours and an
intellectual property lawyer had offered his services to the cause.