[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems

On Wed, Jun 15, 2005 at 02:10:06AM -0400, Eric Dorland wrote:
> * Wouter Verhelst (wouter@debian.org) wrote:
> > On Tue, Jun 14, 2005 at 03:05:20PM -0400, Eric Dorland wrote:
> > > Come on, that can't possibly be the intention. I could craft a license
> > > that says "you have all the rights of the BSD license, as long as your
> > > code is exactly the same as it is in Debian". That would be
> > > insane. 
> > 
> > Yes, but it's not relevant to the case at hand.
> Why is it irrelevant?

Because your example is about code, while the other example is about a
name. Not allowing people to use modified code is clearly non-free; not
allowing people to use the same name is not.

> > In the firefox case, people say "You have all the rights of the license;
> > and as long as it's in Debian or it's not modified, you may call it
> > firefox".
> Exactly. How is that permissible under DFSG #8.

The DFSG does not apply to trademark licenses, only to software
(copyright) licenses.

> > The DFSG talks about software licenses. It does not talk about patents
> > (which is a problem), and it does not talk about trademarks either
> > (which I don't think is a problem, but I don't know whether other people
> > feel the same way). A trademark license simply /is not an issue/ with
> > regards to Free Software; whether you're allowed to use a trademark or
> > not has no impact on whether or not you're allowed to modify, study, or
> > redistribute the software. As such, it cannot make the license non-free.
> Just because the DFSG was developed only within the context of
> software licenses, it doesn't mean their principles don't apply to
> other things.

Where possible, sure. But "principles" doesn't mean "the rules should be
exactly the same".

> Let's construct an analogy using patents. Company X
> releases foowhizbang under a BSD license. But contained within
> foowhizbang is their patented algorithm, which they're actively
> enforcing against anyone who distributes their own complied
> binaries. Except they've granted the Debian project an
> exception. Would we distribute this software? Even though we're not
> discussing a software license, I think the principles behind the DFSG
> would mean we would not distribute this software. I hope the parallels
> I'm drawing are clear.

We will not distribute anything that is encumbered with an actively
enforced patent, period. Whether we have an exception or not isn't even

We will distribute things that have a copyright licence which is
actively enforced. All of the GNU stuff, for example.

The two are, again, completely different beasts. The same is true for
trademark licenses, and I don't see why a requirement to rename it
unless given permission (which, as it happens, Debian has gotten) is

> Now, I haven't claimed Firefox's trademark makes it non-free. My
> question is whether I can use the trademark in Debian. If I look at
> the Mozilla Trademark Policy, I cannot. Now MoFo has agreed to extend
> us permission to use the mark. I don't think we should accept that
> permission. We shouldn't be making deals purely in our own self
> interest.

We're not doing that.

DFSG#8 _cannot_ be applied to trademarks. Due to the nature of trademark
law, the Mozilla Foundation _cannot_ give a blanket permission to call
firefox anything deriving even a slight bit of code from the Debian
packages; if they did that, they would lose their trademark. It's as
simple as that.

DFSG#8 applies to copyright law, where such a rule does make sense and
is possible. It does not apply to trademark law, which is completely

The amount of time between slipping on the peel and landing on the
pavement is precisely one bananosecond

Reply to: