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Re: [Possibly OT] Trademarks

Paul Iadonisi wrote:
  At the risk of stirring up a hornets' nest, I'd like to pose the
question to Red Hatters: what approach are you taking to trademarks?
  Apparently, there is (was?) some discussion going on at debian-legal
regarding Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird.At first glance, I
see that there are quite a few patches included in the firefox rpm in
FC3 and even more in rawhide and I'm wondering if Red Hat has filtered
this through its legal eagles, since it is still called Firefox.

I have already replied to this issue (on this list) and noted that we have an agreement with the Mozilla Foundation. Additionally, I have requested permission from the Mozilla Foundation on potential problem areas before patching them into our distribution as of recently. I have not received word of any issue that the Mozilla Foundation has with our officially released packages.

  For the Mozilla case, based on some of the excerpts I've read, they're
expectation is unreasonable: they want people to know they are using
Firefox and Thunderbird (by name), but they want to control what types
of changes are made to the software.  To me, that's end-run around the
FOSS licenses which they have chosen.

Stop misrepresenting it. You are allowed to change whatever you want without recourse. What the Mozilla Foundation is protecting is the name "Firefox" and the respective art. They want to make sure that if you are distributing "Firefox", you aren't selling an IE/NS4 clone.

For example, there have been occurences in the past with certain distributors patching gecko which negatively altered the standards compliance of the browser, after their patches had been rejected by upstream. Note that it is completely valid for a distributor to do this per the Mozilla Public License, however, when bug reports and news items come back about certain versions of "Mozilla" being non-conformant to standards it claims to support, that's bad PR and hurts Mozilla and, indirectly open source.

Whether or not you agree with that, it does not dillute the fact that the source code is out there and under an open source license (it can be re-distributed as (L)GPL only if you wish) and you can make whatever changes to it that you wish. If you are making substantive changes to it already, what's the big deal about a minor change to its name and artwork? It's obviously not the same software, no need to pretend it is, though it should be attributed. The fact that you are even allowed to see the source and modify and freely distribute such an integral piece of software on the desktop is just awesome, IMO.

Also please note that in order to even get the "Firefox" name and artwork built in if you are rolling your own build, you have to knowingly turn it on with a few environment variables and configure flags.

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