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Re: Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems

Simon Huggins <huggie@earth.li> writes:
> On Wed, Jun 15, 2005 at 08:20:48PM -0700, Russ Allbery wrote:

>> Second, the real problems with rebranding are not with the technical
>> work that has to happen, from the sound of it.  They're with user
>> recognition and the ability of users to find the right package for
>> something they want to run.  That *is* a significant issue, at least in
>> my opinion, but Debian taking that hit doesn't do *anything* to help
>> our downstream users.  They still end up having to either take the same
>> hit or now undo Debian work to get back to the name that their users
>> will recognize.

> I was under the impression that downstreams could call the packages
> firefox as they had been blessed with official Debian penguin pee as
> long as they didn't then change them and it was only when they were
> modified that they potentially had to go to the Mozilla Foundation for a
> license.

> Did I get the wrong end of the stick?

No, I think you're right.  This is my point:

 * If we do not rebrand Firefox, we benefit our users because they can
   still find the browser.  We require our downstream packagers to do the
   work of rebranding (which is apparently not that difficult) and incur
   the hit on user recognition if they change the package further.

 * If we do rebrand Firefox, all of our users take the hit on user
   recognition, and in addition, all of our downstream packagers *also*
   take the hit on user recognition even if they didn't want to change the
   package at all.  The only way they could avoid that is to both talk to
   MoFo themselves *and* undo the technical work of rebranding.

I'm totally failing to see how rebranding Firefox makes life better for
our users, *including* our downstream packagers.  It looks to me like it
makes it worse across the board.

That being said, we absolutely should not allow the trademark issue to
give MoFo any more of a veto on package changes than any other upstream
would have.  If we feel we need to make a change to improve the package
for our users and MoFo disagrees with that change and says we can't use
the trademark if we make it, we should make it, rebrand Firefox, and go on
with our lives.  Debian as a project already tries to work with upstream
whenever possible, and certainly we should continue to do this, but I'm
*extremely* uncomfortable with the idea of this trademark license being
used as a stick to prevent Debian from producing the distribution we want
to produce.

The most disturbing thing I've seen in this entire thread so far (and I'm
trying not to overreact, since I don't know the whole story) is hearing
that Mozilla might veto root CA additions using the trademark liense as a
stick.  I think it's a horrible idea to rebrand Firefox out of worries of
avoiding a Debian-specific deal, but if the branding ends up being used
for things like supporting the evil Verisign monopoly against more
reasonable ways of handling TLS certificates, it would be worth rebranding
to me to avoid having to wait on those sorts of changes.  On the other
hand, if that statement was just a security concern and a request that
MoFo be given time to vet new CA additions before they're just added
downstream, that's probably quite reasonable and the invocation of the
trademark license stick may have just been a poor choice of wording on
their part.

Russ Allbery (rra@stanford.edu)             <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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