Kodi battles trademark trolls trying to profit from free software

Following its transformation from XMBC, the free media software now known as Kodi has caught the public's attention in a big way. Though some know it simply as that thing that can be used to pirate movies, the software has overall become a favorite among those who want a central location for all their media, one that can run on just about any device. And that's where the 'trademark trolls' come in.

Kodi, for those unaware, is a simple but highly capable bit of free software that can be used to access local and network media, online streaming services, and more. The software has been around for many years, though primarily under the defunct name 'XBMC.' Kodi has been tasked as of late with shaking the growing public perception that it is a piracy app...after all, it's the software being loaded onto Fire Stick devices sold at huge markups for those who don't want to pay for content.

Amidst that negative association comes another problem — the software is suddenly the source of trademark trolls who are attempting to profit off of its popularity. Head over to Amazon or a number of other online retailers and you'll find loads of hardware — set top boxes, dongles, etc — that are Kodi-capable or offer it pre-installed. There's nothing wrong with this as it is free software.

According to a recent blog post by the Kodi team, though, a number of international 'trademark trolls' trademarked the Kodi name in other countries, using those trademarks for 'blackmailing hardware vendors' into paying for using the Kodi name with their products. In some cases, the Kodi team has gotten these trolls to voluntarily surrender their trademarks.

The team details one troublesome case, though, where a Canadian individual who trademarked the Kodi name is allegedly using that trademark to get products removed from Amazon Canada unless the companies behind the products pay to use the trademark. The company is actively dealing with this problem, and stated that it will even initiate legal proceedings if necessary.

In the blog post, the Kodi team stated:

...We want to let the trolls know that we have caught on to this game and will not accept it. We are actively taking the necessary steps to ensure that the Kodi trademark trolls are dealt with appropriately. There is no value proposition in trolling the Kodi name.