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Korean Linux Trademark Goes To Appellate Court January 20

By Yi Kyoung-ho and Randy Leganza

On Friday, January 20, 2000, Korea’s second highest court is
scheduled to hear the appeal of Kwon Yong-tae’s lawyers asserting
his Linux trademark. Most people expect Kwon to lose again;
he
lost earlier when a lower court upheld the Korean patent office’s
revocation.

In September 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 sent a letter to one
of Seoul’s largest booksellers, requesting they stop selling Linux
books.

The incident quickly drew the ire of the local Linux community,
including the government sponsored “Linux Council.” The government
patent office soon 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 the court.

Nevertheless, Kwon is persisting, and the lawyers are scheduled
to appear in the apppellate court on January 20. If the issue then
goes to Korea’s highest court, it could be another 6 months before
it is finally resolved.

In the meantime, Linux publications remain on the
bookshelves.