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Re: Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems

Thijs Kinkhorst wrote:
However, in #4, an explicit exception is made for program names and
version numbers. They are not considered fundamental enough to software to
require them to be as absolutely free as source code. So if we accept this
exception for software coming in, why can't we accept this same exception
for software derived from our distribution?

This is basically our position. I include below, for reference, an email I sent to Eric 24 hours ago in response to his request to settle this issue. It outlines a rough shape of an agreement which I hope we can reach.

It might be beneficial though to have an agreement with MoFo that allows
for downstreams of Debian to also use the name, as long as they only
modify the package in ways similar to Debian. If you have a downstream
that just copies, or copies-and-fixes-bugs, this would surely be just as
acceptable to MoFo, right?

I completely agree that Debian redistributors without modification (as in "here's a Debian CD") shouldn't be restricted.

However, one of the reasons we are happy for Debian to have the great flexibility outlined below is that Debian has a great track record for producing quality software (eventually ;-P). J. Random Downstream-Developer may not have such a reputation, and so there is a greater risk that the marks cease to be seen as a "mark of quality" if we are too broad in our unconditional grant to your downstream.

Having made that point, I think we could say that if the modifications _they_ made to the base Debian packages were within the Mozilla trademark policy, then there would be no need to ask us about it.

I would say, though, that given the great ease with which one can rebrand Firefox (see below for evidence), which is probably easier than almost any other existing application of comparable size due to the Netscape heritage and their need to rebrand, I don't think that it would be significantly limiting downstream freedoms if we said they had to change the name (or ask us) for *all* modifications. After all, that's what some packages whose licenses have name-change clauses say.


Previous email to Eric:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Firefox Trademark Issues
Date: Sun, 12 Jun 2005 18:15:27 +0100
From: Gervase Markham <gerv@mozilla.org>
Organization: mozilla.org
To: Eric Dorland <eric.dorland@mail.mcgill.ca>
References: <20050608055440.GK11682@nightcrawler.kuroneko.ca>

Eric Dorland wrote:
> Sarge is released, so the time is ripe to figure out what I'm going to
> do. This issue has been dragging out like 6 months now, so lets hash
> it out.


One thing I remember being a concern last time was the level of
difficulty of rebranding Firefox. You may have noticed that the Firefox
1.1 preview release has been rebranded as Deer Park. The work went on in
this bug:
There were a few false starts, but I think it's clear that
fundamentally, rebranding Firefox is not a complicated or lengthy operation.

Having said that, is it possible to come to an agreement along the
following lines?

- The Mozilla Foundation gives Debian permission to use the Firefox logo
and brand name.

- That permission is revocable, but not for shipped or frozen versions
of Debian.

- It's the Foundation's responsibility to make sure the Debian version
meets our requirements; if we have issues, we sort them out with the
maintainer in the first instance.

- The requirements in question (or, probably, a set of principles or
something like that) would be the result of a discussion between the
Foundation and the maintainer.

- The permission to ship copies of Debian's version extends to everyone.

- The permission to ship modified versions of Debian's version does not
extend to everyone; if they make changes, they have to rebrand or ask
permission. This is analogous to the clause which is found in some BSD
licences, stating that modified packages of software are required to
have a different name. As noted above, this is not a difficult exercise.

Can we make this fly?


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