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Re: Mozilla and Trademarks

Joel Aelwyn wrote:

> First, having such a trademark license establishes the Mozilla project
> as an arbiter of package quality for a Debian package.

Indeed. With all the caveats that you state, then yes, when it comes down to it, it does. It has to, in order for us to claim that we're maintaining our trademark as a mark of quality.

> Second, with all due respect to the current Mozilla project, even if
> we trust that they are reasonable enough, today, to not worry about
> the first point, do we trust that *the holder of the trademark* will
> be reasonable enough *for as long as we want to distribute the
> package*? If it somehow got sold, well, the new TM holder could be
> make life very unpleasant (OK, so this is true for any trademark, but
> given Mozilla's heritage and the commercial interest in web browsers,
> I have to consider it more of a risk that this might happen for them,
> than for JoeBob's AlienKiller game).

Again, a fair point. Although the impact of this event is arguably less than the same issue with a code licence. After all, if the code licensor (e.g. UWash) goes bad on you, that's the end of the package. If the trademark licensor goes bad, you just need to make some modifications to the package. (There may be issues with the actual package name here, but let's leave that for now.) Said modifications are pretty easy to make in our case (Netscape makes them, for example, to rebrand.)

> Third, to be honest, while I appreciate (and, in fact, am flattered
> by) the implication that Mr. Markham, and presumably some significant
> portion of the rest of the Mozilla project,

Well, I speak for myself, insofar as I'm permitted discretion to negotiate on trademark issues. I don't speak for any other named people in the project in this matter :-)

> feel that Debian's QA track record is
> sufficiently good to allow us some amount of extra leeway in the
> question of quality packages, it smacks of a Debian-specific license,
> something which is explicitly forbidden by the DFSG.

Is DFSG 8 actually a problem here?

"The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a Debian system. If the program is extracted from Debian and used or distributed without Debian but otherwise within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the Debian system."

Is it understood that this applies to all rights which go with the program, and not just copyrights? Even if it is, distribution outside the Debian system with the trademarks attached would still have to conform to all applicable laws, including trademark law - although it's not Debian's responsibility to enforce that. In other words, distribution both inside and outside of Debian would require equally a trademark agreement.

> After all, "our users" can and
> do include people making other distributions (just look at the CDD
> stuff). If we, as Debian, can do something that our users can't, with
> the software in our archive, then it can go, at best, into non-free.

True again - there are certainly practical difficulties here with Debian-based distributions, all of which would probably need their own trademark licence if they wanted to modify before redistribution.

> Now, again, I don't
> think that this really needs to happen; I think we should either abide
> by the available licenses (possibly including one not yet written, but
> publically useable, if that was what Mr. Markham was implying could be
> done and I misunderstood it), or go the iceweasel route, rather than
> sticking things into non-free, which would just be silly when there
> are two free alternatives (even if we end up deciding that one of them
> doesn't meet our needs).

Agreed - non-free is not the right way to go here.


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