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Re: firefox -> iceweasel package is probably not legal

On Wed, 06 Dec 2006, Sean Kellogg wrote:
> Okay, I think we've drifted from our point of origin. The lightbulb
> analogy comes from the case law on a light bulb design patent which
> had expired.

No, it's actually the analogy used in the supreme court decision
previously mentioned about the color of steam press covers, which was
why I brought it up.

> The patent holder tried to argue tradedress but the court struck it
> down because allowing tradedress would have resulted in a defacto
> patent of without expiration.

And no, that's not what the decision did.

> But I didn't ASK for iceweasel to be installed. I asked for firefox,
> got firefox. Years later I asked to update my system and suddenly
> debian decided to not only get rid of firefox but to add iceweasel.
> That I was told I wasn't getting the product I asked for is not the
> issue.

A further argument beyond the mere functionality of the name is the
fact that the names of Debian packages are not packages which are
involved in commerce; the packages that we distribute are only
appropriate for use on a Debian system. Since we don't advertise our
distribution as containing firefox at all (indeed, almost all of the
recent press is clearly to the contrary) claiming that the name of the
package (when used in the narrow functional aspect that it is) is an
attempt to cloak iceweasel in the tradedress of firefox seems rather

> I'm not an expert at debian packaging, but won't a package the
> provides the file '/usr/bin/firefox' fail if iceweasel is also
> installed since it also has a file name '/usr/bin/firefox'?

It would either have to conflict with iceweasel or vice versa; since
there's already a Conflicts in place, that's not really a big deal.
[You can also rather trivially use --force-overwrite or similar, or
remove the iceweasel package entirely.]

In any event, barring actual action on the part of the Mozilla
Foundation to block the use of the firefox trademark in this narrow
functional use, I see no reason to cause the maintainer to stop using
it; barring additional caselaw to the contrary, I'll be ending my
contribution to this thread here. EOT.

Don Armstrong

Fate and Temperament are two words for one and the same concept.
 -- Novalis [Hermann Hesse _Demian_]

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

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