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November 25, 2003

OCLC, Library Hotel Settle Differences


Was I the only one to wonder why OCLC would raise such a kerfuffle over this small issue while negotiating with Google over a deal related to dumping a gadzillion OCLC records (created by its members, no less) into the Google database?

Posted by kgs at November 25, 2003 11:45 AM

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The big issue with this suit (and one that the settlement leaves unresolved) is OCLC's attempt to stretch trademark law to encompass the organization of information using a classification system. In other words, OCLC was arguing not only that the use of the trademarked words "Dewey Classification System" violated its property rights, but that by extension the creation of theme rooms according to the classification scheme was also trademark infringement.

Were the case to have been found in OCLC's favor, one might arguably have claimed that the decision would give OCLC leverage to require licensing fees from all unauthorized users of the Dewey system (in other words, every little public library that organizes its books using Dewey but does not subscribe to the OCLC system).

I don't suggest this was OCLC's intent, but it is important to consider the implications when people try to extend IP into new areas.

Posted by: Frederick Emrich at November 25, 2003 04:05 PM