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Re: firefox -> iceweasel package is probably not legal

On Wed, 06 Dec 2006, Sean Kellogg wrote:
> On Wednesday 06 December 2006 15:05, Don Armstrong wrote:
> > Your argument is akin to allowing someone to trademark a specific
> > shape of a light bulb which coveys a functional advantage due to
> > the interaction of the lightbulb and lamp, and then requiring them
> > to redesign the lamp because the design of the lamp brought about
> > a contrived situtation where the bulb design was favorable.
> The difference between the lightbulb and the debian package, in my
> mind, is that one is a system of distribution created by Debian for
> its own purpose. The other is the physical reality of the lightbulb.
> One is mandated by Debian's choice, the other by the laws of
> physics.

The later is mandated by the choice of the lightbulb manufacturer to
be functional in the *pre-existing* design of lamp, not the laws of
physics.[1] It's no more or less contrived than the pre-existing
design of Debian which uses package names as dependency identifiers.
Using the lightbulb shape in the packaging of the lightbulbs or the
logo of the company may be prohibited as that is a non-functional

> Most importantly, Debian *can* distribute Iceweasel without ever
> mentioning Firefox, the lightbulb maker could not. Debian just
> doesn't want to be bothered with the hassel of having to build the
> brand of Iceweasel, so it appears to have decided to co-opt the
> Firefox name.
This would be an issue if we were distributing iceweasel as if it were
firefox. We're not. We're providing the minimal necessary technical
package required to allow for a smooth transition to our users. Doing
anything less would leave our users running old versions of firefox
without security support, etc. I'm not arguing for allowing for wider
use of the mark, only its use in this very specific area.

> A Depends automatically gets the package... and since the package
> includes that symlink, it seems to make all the difference in the
> world.

So do Recommends: in many frontends by default. [And indeed, it's not
technically required that the Depends: install the package we've got
either; the user could just as easily have a package that provides
iceweasel, or a real firefox source which actually installs a firefox
branded browser.[2]]

> it doesn't change the fact that all the debian users who got firefox
> during the past X years it is available are now running iceweasel
> and largely unaware of the difference or distinction.

How can they not know that it was different and distinct? They're told
that it's installing iceweasel. All of the branding is totally
different. There's no non-functional mention of the firefox name

Don Armstrong

1: Indeed, in this case, the "laws" of physics apply equally, [or at
least the currently understood theories under which physics operates
under] since we can no more go back in time and start calling the
original packages iceweasel than the bulb manufacturer can go back and
redesign the lamps.

2: In fact, if actually necessary, there's no reason that the version
number of the firefox transition package couldn't be the minimum
necessary to allow this transition to allow "real firefox" packages to
automatically superceed it.
"There's no problem so large it can't be solved by killing the user
off, deleting their files, closing their account and reporting their
REAL earnings to the IRS."
 -- The B.O.F.H..

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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