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Giant Warrior Penguin Appears At Seoul's Linux Trademark Hearing

Feb 05, 2000, 19:15 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Yi Kyoung-ho, Randy Leganza)

By Randy Leganza and Yi Kyoung-ho

On the morning of January 21 2000, a Giant (but cute) Warrior Penguin appeared in front of the Seoul appellate court to support the 50 humans that turned out for the Linux trademark hearing. While the humans braved the cold and wind, the Penguin charmed the passers-by.

The passing humans were greeted by other smiling, Linux friendly humans, decked-out in yellow protest sashes with matching ball caps, some adorned with badges showing Tux in Battle Dress. For over an hour, these Linux friendly humans engaged passers-by with pleasant vocal tones and distributed multi-colored leaflets.

Meanwhile inside, humans in neckties argued the fate of Kwon Yong-tae's Korean Linux trademark. In 1995, Kwon applied for two Linux trademark patents which were granted in 1997. But he made no attempt to defend his trademarks until August 1999 when his lawyer requested one of Seoul's largest booksellers stop selling Linux books.

This quickly drew the ire of the local Linux community. The government's patent office responded that the patent could be nullified, if it could be shown that Linux existed as an operating system before Kwon's 1995 application. This "evidence of prior art" was easy enough, and the patents' revocation was upheld by a lower court. Kwon is appealing, even though most expect him to loose.

Four days later, while another hearing was taking place in the Korean Property (patent) Office in Taejon, 25 January, the Linux friendly humans gathered at the Seoul Property Office and again showed their support.

The respective adjudicators are expected to announce their decisions in mid-February. If the case than goes to Korea's highest court, it could last another six months.

A human webmaster has updated the English web page on the trademark issue. And photos of the Giant Warrior Penguin and smiling Linux friendly humans are available here and here.

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