Plea for help from Horowhenua Library Trust


(by Liz Rea on behalf of the community):
There has been a lot of news in the last 24 hours – much of it has been collected in this Zotero group. Coverage of the story includes three radio stories, one TV clip, blog posts, tweets, Facebook and G+ updates. We are overwhelmed by the support we are getting from around the world – thank you so much for your time, money, tweets, and attention to our plight.

We learned a few hours ago of a press release and statement from a LibLime/PTFS staff member that states their intention to transfer the TM to the Horowhenua Library Trust. However, as of this writing there has been no official communication between LibLime/PTFS and HLT that I am aware of. We will update this post again when we have more information, and thank you again (and again) for your support.

Original Post

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.

Help the cause – contribute to our legal challenge fund:

Contribute using PayPal

NZ cheques can be made out to Horowhenua Library Trust and posted to:

Levin Library, 10 Bath Street, Levin 5510

Bank deposits can be made to this account:

Te Horowhenua Trust, Westpac, Levin, NZ. 030667-0299274-00  REF: Trademark

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69 comments on “Plea for help from Horowhenua Library Trust
  1. dave says:

    Hi know this is rather long, I’d read about this earlier in the day and sent an email to the Company directly, i recieved a bog std reply to which i’ve replied as below.

    May I suggest others do the same??

    again sorry for the length.



    On the News tonight in NZ.
    You’re company really knows how to shaft the originator of the project.

    You guys ever thought of becoming political lobbyist? from my knowledge of the American Lobbyiest community you’d fit in well, build a support base around an issue then claim it as you’re sole property.

    great going.

    Hope the NZ Govt gets hell over this (we’re leading up to an election in this coming Saturday Te he).
    you’re application should never have been allowed. Do you even know what Koha means in Maori?

    you’ll have all the Maori up in arms with the trademarking of a word that simply means in english “free” or “of no charge”.

    No wonder America is so villified in parts of the world, you’re society has an arogance that defies belief and yet I aknowledge that as a society is very giving (YES I LIVE IN CHCH NZ) gone through all the earthquakes from Sept last year etc and appreciate the support of the Urban rescue group that came out here to help.

    I hope that you’re company rethinks things and withdraws the trademarking of the word (unless you gift the trademarking in what ever markets you have obtained them to the originating Library which would give you kudos in the OSS arena and would avoid further bad press).

    I can see this going on youtube and through the larger OSS community as well.


  2. Patricia says:

    Sorry not in a position to donate right now – but would like to send letter or sign petition. Our Ministry of Development should be ashamed – did they get a cut?
    We’ve had enough of other places claiming copyright on our words (remember Moana Jackson in Germany). Will you consider composing letters that supporters can copy and send both to our govt. and to LibLime without risking defamation or other damage?

  3. dave says:

    Oh yes I’ve sent an email to the FSF (I think it was) foundation in the states with links to this site and

    Rather than working on this locally you need to get the larger community of Koha upset over this plus organisations like the Freedom Software Foundation involved as they’d take a dim view of this I’m sure.


  4. Marc Sabin says:

    We totally support you and will donate.
    Koha must stay the name of the public software and community.

  5. csman says:

    Just dropped a few bucks to help you guys. Your trademark shall not be taken away from you.

  6. Peter Davis says:

    All the best with this, hope our donation helps out.

  7. Pat says:

    So sorry to hear of this trademark filing & support your fight against it. Have sent donation.

    As user of another North American open source ILS, I’ve always regarded Koha as a welcome “backup” possibility as the marketplace continues to change. Their action leaves me with a really negative feeling for PTFS/LibLime.

  8. Mike says:

    Kaz Kylheku said “You can’t borrow someone’s copyrighted software, build a service business around it and then try to pretend you are the author by claiming the trademark.”

    Actually, in the case of open-source software copyrighted by the GPL (which Koha is), you can do that. The trademark is not the copyright, and does not assert ownership of the software.

    What I don’t understand is why the word was not already trademarked in NZ by the originators, thereby blocking the trademark application by an outsider?

    Presently, the Liblime website asserts trademark status only in the US. The software itself is still available for free from their site, just as intended by the authors.

  9. Sam Varghese says:

    I have not heard back from you despite my request on November 23. Here is my contribution for the moment: