Phoenix and Minotaur to be renamed Firebird and Thunderbird
Monday April 14th, 2003
Asa Dotzler writes: "After months of discussion and further months of legal investigation, we're finally comfortable moving forward with new names. The new name for the Phoenix browser is 'Firebird'. The documentation and product strings will be updated soon. In addition to securing Firebird, we've also got the OK from those contributing legal resources to use the name 'Thunderbird' for a mail client. Hopefully this will be the end of naming legal issues for a while."
#102 Protecting Mozilla's Open Source Cred...
Tuesday April 15th, 2003 9:57 PM
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Asa Dotzler has no comment to make on the theft of the Firebird mark, except to say that he and his lawyers are "comfortable" with it. Clearly his lawyers have advised him that the *real* Firebird project has no money (we are, after all, volunteers producing software for free distribution) and thus not a risk for a lawsuit. Isn't this horribly reminiscent of the kind of corporate bullying that spawned the OSI, after all?
Be assured that we of the *real* Firebird Project ARE incensed about this filthiest of dirty tricks, launched without warning by a crowd which has pretensions to being "open" in the broader sense espoused by the OSI. This is not a "free and open" tactic in any sense except that by which felons believe others' property is "free for the taking" and "a glass door is always open".
So, Asa Dotzler is "comfortable" with stealing our mark. Is he also "comfortable" with the near-certainty that RedHat, SuSe, et al., the Linux distributors on which the marketing position of Mozilla products depend, will be unwilling to risk a trademark dispute by deploying these products with their distros?
We of the *real* Firebird are proud of our product and devoted to our branding. Our marks are not there for the taking, as Asa will discover, to his and Mozilla's severe cost. The law is on our side: we have nearly three years of widespread international use of our mark. All Mozilla has is an application to use it, which will surely fail if taken to court. If Asa's lawyers failed to point that out to him, then he should ask them for his money back.
The heart of this dispute is not "legal comfort", however. It's the doing of this dirty deed in the heartland of open source, where we are all supposed to be above such things. If Open Source is to win, we can well do without brother cynically stealing from brother. The easy route will be for Asa to quickly unwind what he has wound up and pay us the courtesy of an apology. The hard route will be Mozilla to proceed with this and lose its Open Source cred and goodwill.
How hard is that choice, Asa? How much do these things matter to Mozilla?