Firefox/Thunderbird trademarks: a proposal
Here's my attempt at something which hopefully everyone can accept. I've
tried to take into account all the excellent feedback over the past few
weeks, for which I thank all involved. Comments are in square brackets.
This assumes that DFSG #8 means that Debian can be given rights over and
above the rights necessary to make a program free, as long as all the
rights necessary to make it free are transferable.
1) The Foundation grants Debian, and all redistributors of the official
Debian packages of the Foundation's products, the right to label those
packages with a name containing the trademark.
[This document would apply to "Firefox", "Thunderbird", and any other
trademarks on software names we may hold in future. The name would be
Firefox, Community Edition or whatever is agreed between the Foundation
and the maintainer. It's not important to this document.]
2) The Foundation agrees to document the procedure for changing the name
to its satisfaction, for the benefit of Debian and anyone else, and to
work to make that procedure as simple as possible.
[This means that if you or a Debian redistributor ever has to change the
name, it hopefully won't be too onerous. And it means we can't blindside
anyone with 'but you forgot to change *this* instance".]
3) The Foundation will review the current Debian package at freeze time,
and at other times at their discretion, and bring any issues they have
to the attention of the maintainer. The maintainer is not responsible
for notifying the Foundation of any changes he may make to the package,
or obligated to make any change that the Foundation may suggest.
However, in the unlikely event of irreconcilable differences occurring
between the maintainer and the Foundation, the name of the package will
have to be changed in all as-yet-unreleased versions of Debian.
[This gives you a free hand over the development process, and us the
oversight that we need by law to be seen to be having.]
4) The Foundation agrees not to withdraw the permission more than three
months into a freeze.
[This is intended to mean that we can't require an inconvenient change
just when you are about to release; if we don't notice until it's too
late, it's our problem. My understanding of the Debian process is not
complete; 'freeze' may not be the correct term here.]
5) The Foundation agrees not to withdraw the permission for versions of
the product shipping in stable releases of Debian, provided all updates
to the package are within Debian's guidelines for package updates in
[You have carte blanche to make security fixes. We are happy because
your own procedures say you can't gut the package and replace it with
something different. And you are happy because you have to follow your
own procedures anyway, so it's not a burden.]
6) The Foundation agrees that it's not Debian's responsibility to make
sure the distributors of any derivative works of Debian packages have an
implicit or explicit trademark license from the Foundation.
[No hassle for you.]
7) The Foundation requests that Debian document, in a place where it
might be seen by package modifiers, the potential need to acquire such a
[I hope you would view such a notice as a service to your users - but
distributors of modified versions may need a license whether you add the
notice or not.
This is hopefully in line with DFSG #4, which says that packages are
free even if derived works are required to carry a different name.
It is also in line with free software licenses where changes require
other changes, e.g. the GPL 2a) where code changes must be documented.]
Is this a runner?
One final note: I can't completely exclude the possibility that someone
higher up at the Foundation (e.g. Mitchell Baker) will say that I've
overreached myself. But I don't know of any reason why that would be the
case, and I'm negotiating in good faith. I would, of course, get a final
version approved by all necessary parties :-)