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Re: Mozilla Foundation Trademarks

* Michael K. Edwards (m.k.edwards@gmail.com) wrote:
> On 6/19/05, Eric Dorland <eric.dorland@mail.mcgill.ca> wrote:
> > * Michael K. Edwards (m.k.edwards@gmail.com) wrote:
> > > I wouldn't say "accept" it, I would say "acknowledge" the safety zone
> > > offered unilaterally by the Mozilla Foundation, and as a courtesy to
> > > them make some effort to stay comfortably within it while continuing
> > > to ship under the Mozilla names.  Their trademark policy is surely
> > > less draconian than, say, Red Hat's, and we aren't going around
> > > purging the RedHat Package Manager from Debian.
> > 
> > I think you're playing word games now. Even if this is a unilateral
> > "gift" we still need to decide if we want it or not.
> Of course; and as the maintainer, you are going to be the one making
> that call.  I'm just chary of using words like "offer" and "accept"
> because they suggest that we are in the contract zone.  I think (I
> could be wrong; IANAL) that, in the free software arena, it's actually
> better for both sides for the trademark holder to say:
> "We aren't exactly licensing all and sundry to manufacture products
> under our brand.  Our product line includes both the source code and
> the 'official' binaries; we are of the opinion that third parties who
> follow these guidelines when building and distributing their own
> binaries are merely re-packaging our source code product (under
> standards like Coty v. Prestonettes in the US and X, Y, and Z
> elsewhere) and using our trademarks descriptively.
> "We reserve the right to decide unilaterally that someone either has
> created a product of their own (to which our trademark can't be
> applied without license) or isn't doing an adequate job of QA in the
> course of re-packaging.  But if and when that happens, we're going to
> follow the steps outlined here to try to bring them into voluntary
> compliance before we demand that they either accept a formal license
> and traditional oversight procedures or cease to apply our trademarks
> to their modified version of our product."
> >From what I've read, that's as open a policy as a trademark holder can
> offer and still retain control of the trademark in the long run.  I
> may be overstating here how far the Mozilla Foundation is willing to
> go; but if a modus vivendi can be reached in which the only thing
> special about Debian is that the guidelines more or less reflect the
> maintainer's actual practice, I think that sits more comfortably with
> DFSG #8 than a license per se.

If the mozilla foundation come up with something like that I would be
satisfied, as long as the guidelines as reasonable and allow me to do
things I need to do as a maintainer. 
> > > If the offer from six months ago still stands (which, to my
> > > recollection and in my non-lawyer view, read like a unilateral "safety
> > > zone" rather than a trademark license as such), that's extraordinarily
> > > accommodating on MoFo's part.  It's a square deal from people with a
> > > pretty good reputation for square deals.  They deserve better from
> > > Debian than to have their flagship products obscured by a rename when
> > > they haven't done anything nasty to anyone yet.
> > 
> > What reputation are you referring to? Not that I necessarily disagree,
> > but what are you basing that assessment on?
> Their rebranding isn't special for Netscape/AOL and other corporate
> partners; they've worked very hard to make it accessible to third
> parties without any need for explicit cooperation with them.  They're
> going through the agony of relicensing their entire code base under
> MPL/LGPL/GPL so that GPL projects can cherry-pick at source code
> level.  They're good citizens in W3C standards space even when the
> committee decisions go against them (e. g., XUL vs. XForms).  I don't
> know the details of their CA certificate handling, but at least they
> _have_ a policy and respond constructively to criticism of it.  And
> Mitch Kapor and the rest of the MoFo board have a lot of street cred
> as individuals.

Point taken. But I'm not sure what you mean by their Netscape
rebranding isn't special. Netscape doesn't claim their browser is
Firefox, so there isn't a problem from that perspective. 

> > > The FSF has, at best, completely failed to offer leadership with
> > > respect to free software and trademarks, as the MySQL case and the Red
> > > Hat / UnixCD mess have shown.  I think it would be rather gratifying
> > > if Debian could step in to fill the void.  And it would be kind of
> > > nice to have a workable modus vivendi to exhibit if and when the Linux
> > > Mark Institute (or the OpenSSL team or the PHP folks or Red Hat or
> > > MySQL) comes knocking.
> > 
> > I do have to agree that guidance when it comes to trademark situations
> > is sorely lacking. There doesn't seem to be that consistent a
> > viewpoint with Debian either unfortunately.
> It's a sticky wicket.  Free software enthusiasts (among whom I count
> myself) don't like systems that exacerbate second-class-citizenship
> among those whose motivations aren't principally commercial.  Nowadays
> everyone's a publisher, and the paperwork overhead of copyright has
> dropped near to zero (until you try to enforce it); but not everyone
> is a marketer, and that's what trademarks are about.  I think it's
> possible to have a personal-freedom-compatible trademark policy, but
> it's not trivial, and the first few tries are bound to have their
> discontents.  Doesn't mean it's not worth trying, though.

I'd certainly 

Eric Dorland <eric.dorland@mail.mcgill.ca>
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