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Re: Ongoing Firefox (and Thunderbird) Trademark problems

On 6/27/05, Wouter Verhelst <wouter@debian.org> wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 27, 2005 at 02:34:00AM -0400, Eric Dorland wrote:
> > "Presumably" isn't good enough IMHO. If they cared about fairness they
> > would develop a trademark policy that could be applied to everyone,
> > based on the "quality" criteria that is right now only known to the
> > MoFo.
> How do you judge quality? Do you apply some basic filter, read a metric,
> and say "this program scores 83% on the scale of good code"?
> Or do you have a look at how people write their code, what the result
> is, and whether you think that result is a good thing? In other words,
> do you make a judgement call?

As a general rule, the trademark holder is obliged to retain the
authority to judge whether or not others are maintaining adequate
quality controls.  This authority is not without bounds (see
Prestonettes v. Coty and other precedents I have cited), but
delegating too many subjective judgment calls to the trademark user
(whether or not he/she is a "licensee") risks loss of the trademark.

It is apparently possible for a trademark holder to accept contractual
limits on his/her/its authority to issue a product a failing grade;
see the Sun v. Microsoft saga and the extent to which Sun may be
obliged to pass a Java implementation that passes their Test
Compatibility Kit.  But a browser is not a JVM, and I don't think it's
reasonable to ask the Mozilla folks to reduce their QA role to
objective validation with a currently non-existent TCK.

I hope that Eric or the DPL will decide to formally "acknowledge" the
safety zone offered to Debian by the Mozilla Foundation rather than
profess to "ignore" the trademark policy.  A policy that one is
"ignoring" can't be held up to other trademark holders as a modus
vivendi; and in any case I think the Foundation deserves better from
Debian than that.  I do find it encouraging that Eric has invited the
DPL to weigh in.  I hope that Branden finds the time to consult with
competent counsel (which I am not) and to propose a solution that
garners enough developer support to be a model for our relationship
with other trademark holders.

- Michael

P. S.  The Mozilla Foundation doesn't seem to object to "MoFo", and
may even have originated the term.  But I can certainly see how it
could lead to misunderstandings.  :)

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