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Re: Debian & the Mozilla Firefox Trademarks

Ben Goodger wrote:

Eric Dorland wrote:

Hi Ben,
Hi Eric,

I'm replying to this including our QA person, Asa Dotzler who is interested in these matters.

You probably don't know me, so let me introduce myself: I'm the
Firefox maintainer in Debian. I'm contacting you because of the issue
of the Firefox trademarks, both on the name and the artwork. Looking
at your licensing and trademark page
(http://www.mozilla.org/foundation/licensing.html), we can only use
the Firefox trademark if we use unmodified sources. Unfortunately, our
sources will certainly be modified, in all likelyhood to fix bugs or
perhaps in the form of slight feature patches from our users or
changes to make it fit better within debian. These are minor
changes, and don't really differentiate the product substantially from
the official Firefox. We do distribute your sources unmodified, with
the debian-specific changes in a separate file, so there is an
unmodified copy accessible to users in debian, but it is not clear in
your statement whether you mean sources or binaries or both.

Before we're willing to sanction the distribution of a modified version of Firefox under our trademark name and logo, we need to know what those changes are, specifically. A certain level of modifications are likely to be fine with us, while others types of changes would probably cause us concern. You can understand, I'm sure, that we'd be apprehensive about someone shipping a product called Mozilla Firefox which had modifications that led to a poor user experience.

The primary concerns I have are that the stability or other functionality of the application would be negatively impacted by "slight feature patches" or that your bug fixes would cause unintended negative consequences. Can you provide us with a specific list of changed that you're making to Firefox? Even better would be if you could point me bugs in your bug system that contain the actual patches you've applied and information about the testing that was done to cover those changes. I made a few attempts to locate Firefox(/Firebird) bugs in your bug system but didn't have any luck.

If they really are minor changes, then I think we can easily come to an agreement. If the changes are large, especially something like the inclusion of additional 3rd-party "Firefox extensions" or compiling with "experimental" mozilla code, that could complicate things.

So if your trademark policies aren't changed/clarified we will be
unable to distribute your software with the name Firefox. This would
be a detriment to our users and confusion whether this is actually
your software or not. I would be more than happy if we could continue
to use the name, but noted in the about box or somewhere else that
this is an unofficial version. If it turns out we cannot use the name,
can you please suggest an alternative name that people in our
situation (we will not be the only ones, certainly) can use. We
understand that you want to protect your trademark, but if you impose
such strict limitations, you will likely hinder the progress Firefox
can make in the FLOSS communities.
Asa will comment more here.

We certainly would like to see Debian distributing a Firefox build with the official name and branding and we'd like to work with you all to come to a resolution that allows you to ship an "official" Firefox and that allows us to feel comfortable about the quality of products shipping under our name and logos.


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