London
12 September 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Kodi hit by trademark trolls


Kodi, the company behind the open source IPTV box software of the same name, has been hit by a multitude of so-called ‘trademark trolls’.

In a blog post on the company’s website, Kodi said trademark trolls have attempted to register the Kodi brand in various countries, demanding fees for distribution of the software.

Kodi first experienced trademark trolls after it transitioned away from its old name, XBMC, to Kodi, in 2014. At that time, trolls tried to register the Kodi name in several countries “with the goal of earning money off the Kodi name without doing any work beyond sending threatening letters”, Kodi said.

The company has been attempting to tackle this problem, but says it has resulted in non-official versions of the IPTV software being sold by competitors on websites such as Amazon.

According to the blog post, these trademark trolls are attempting to make Kodi “no longer free”.

“By this we mean that today any user can take a clean and untouched copy of Kodi and distribute it however they please ... As long as users follow our basic trademark requirements, they can do with Kodi as they please,” it said.

“Trademark trolls want to stop this. They want to make it so that if you want to distribute Kodi, you need to pay them a fee first.”

Kodi IPTV add-on developers have become targets of enforcement actions since a Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruling earlier this year. Many developers created add-ons for Kodi that allowed users to view infringing content on their IPTV boxes, but the CJEU ruled that this was illegal.

Kodi said it would stand by its neutral policy when it comes to infringing streams, arguing that its staff members are “developers and not the police” and have “no interest in acting as police for our own software”.

The company said its platform would remain “as free and open” as it always has.

Commenting on Kodi’s trademark troubles, Carissa Kendall-Windless, associate and trademark attorney at intellectual property law firm EIP, said: “Some might say that Kodi are getting a taste of their own medicine in that they are unhappy their IP is being capitalised on, but, at the same time, through use of their Kodi box, end-users have infringed the IP of others.”

“That said, whilst they are not the purest of companies, they should be able to protect their IP and no doubt will assert their rights where they can.”

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