Koha releases new version as trademark defended

Open source library system at the centre of a lawsuit continues to be enhanced

As the legal case over the trademark Koha makes slow progress, still without resolution, the open-source library system at the centre of the lawsuit continues to be enhanced. Version 3.8.0 of the software has been released.

The new version includes over 100 enhancements comprising more than 1000 individual patches supplied by more than 70 developers from around the globe, says local contributor Catalyst IT.

Koha was originally developed for the Horowhenua Library Trust and is now used by thousands of libraries throughout the world. As an open-source system, it is maintained and enhanced by an international community of developers.

In 2007, US-based LibLime acquired the Koha division of key developer Katipo Communications and in 2010 LibLime was itself taken over by PTFS and is now known as PTFS LibLime. That company last year was provisionally granted trademark rights to the name KOHA (in capitals) by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Koha community objected to the move and earlier this year filed a notice of opposition to the grant of trademark rights (Computerworld, February 28). PTFS LibLime declines to back down and has indicated it will defend its claim to the name.

“That means we have to submit evidence to support our position by June,” says the community’s lawyer Andrew Matangi, at Buddle Findlay.

PTFS LibLime’s latest statement of claim indicates that it is specifically claiming “KOHA” in capitals, Matangi says, as distinct from “Koha” or “koha”, a Maori word, meaning gift or donation.

Despite the distraction of the trademark suit, Koha developers have continued to develop the system and to plan for this year’s annual Koha conference. Kohacon12 will be held in Edinburgh in June. As a sponsor of the conference, and supporter of Koha, Catalyst IT is sending two of its senior Koha developers to speak at the event.

Chris Cormack, who was on the original development team in 1999, will be attending the conference. Robin Sheat, another senior developer, will also be attending and then staying on in Europe until September. He will be available to advise interested libraries and organisations on their data migration, development and training for librarians and system developers, says a statement by Catalyst.

Catalyst says it is especially pleased that 15 of the Koha patches for the latest version were contributed by the Catalyst Open Source Academy, an initiative designed to provide training and work experience for young New Zealand technologists.

“Supporting Koha is important to us,” says Catalyst director Don Christie. “We want to see libraries and the communities they support not be burdened by expensive or restrictive licensing; this way they can focus on providing the best possible services to their communities.”

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