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Re: Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems

On Wed, Jun 15, 2005 at 11:48:55AM -0400, Eric Dorland wrote:
> * Wouter Verhelst (wouter@debian.org) wrote:
> > Where possible, sure. But "principles" doesn't mean "the rules should be
> > exactly the same".
> Please stop putting words in my mouth. I never said that the rules
> should necessarily be the same. But I am of the opinion that the
> spirit of DFSG #8 should apply.

To trademarks? Why? I don't see why that would be necessary, or even a
good idea; but I'm sure I can be convinced given good arguments.

> > We will distribute things that have a copyright licence which is
> > actively enforced. All of the GNU stuff, for example.
> Come on, we distribute things with actively enforced copyrights that
> have DFSG licenses, not just anything.

I didn't say that. Please stop putting words in my mouth ;-P

What I meant was, "there exists software whose copyright is being
actively envorced that we distribute".

> > 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
> > wrong.
> If we accept it, we've made a Debian-specific deal to distribute that
> software. Is that acceptable? I don't believe it is.

Why not? I've seen you say that quite a few times in this thread, but I
really don't see what your problem is, sorry. Could you try to explain?

> > 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.
> Sure it can. Mozilla could have a trademark policy that says "If your
> build of Firefox meets conditions X, Y, Z, you can use our
> trademark". Anyone is free to meet those conditions.

Such a policy would require quite a lot of work, and carries with it far
greater risks for the licensor.

If you create a copyright license that requires you to meet condition X,
Y, and Z before people are allowed to use it, and someone finds a
loophole in your license that would allow them to use the software while
following the letter, but not the spirit of the license, then the worst
that can happen to you is that people are allowed to use that version of
your program in ways you did not intend them to. For the next version,
however, you can change the license, closing the loophole, and all is
well again. That's a problem, but there is a fix.

With a trademark policy like that, if people find a loophole in your
trademark policy, they might suddenly be allowed to use the trademark
for things you did not intend them to, and you might have lost the
rights to your trademark.

This is a serious problem, and there would appear to be no fix.

In that light, I don't think it's unreasonable for trademark owners to
make the rules governing their trademark be stricter than the rules
governing their code. IANAL, however.

Note also that Debian is not about Free Trademarks, it is about Free
Software. There's a difference.

> Other projects do this with their trademarks.

Do you have examples?

> But the mozilla

I think you left an end unfinished here...

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

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