MozillaZine

Full Article Attached Mitchell Baker on the Firebird Naming Dispute

Monday May 12th, 2003

Mitchell Baker, mozilla.org's Chief Lizard Wrangler, has recently been in contact with Ann Harrison, an administrator of the Firebird database project, and Mark O'Donohue, President of the FirebirdSQL Foundation. Mitchell has posted a copy of a recent letter she sent to Harrison and O'Donohue to netscape.public.mozilla.seamonkey. In the message, she describes how mozilla.org firmly believes that Mozilla Firebird is not infringing on the Firebird database trademark but that the name will eventually give way to 'Mozilla Browser' as the focus of development shifts towards standalone applications.

Some recent media articles have declared the Firebird database community as the victors in the naming dispute. Later this week, MozillaZine hopes to publish an exclusive interview with a senior mozilla.org staff member, which will shed some new light on the situation and clarify mozilla.org's current position.


#1 As a PASSIONATE Mozilla user...

by tseelee

Monday May 12th, 2003 7:54 PM

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I'd like to say, why the heck did we have to go through this? Why? Why?

#3 Re: As a PASSIONATE Mozilla user...

by Tanyel <tanyel@straightblack.com>

Monday May 12th, 2003 9:55 PM

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"Why?"

Because Mozilla did not just choose a new name when the problem started.

#4 did you not read it?

by joschi

Monday May 12th, 2003 11:28 PM

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or did you not understand it, because she directly addresses this inane statement in this very story

#11 Re: did you not read it?

by tseelee

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 7:27 AM

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O, I understand it alrite. Cuz we needed a temporary name, we caused a firestorm (pun intended). Geez, I could've done that. Do you remember how many months it took to unveil that name?

#16 Re: did you not read it?

by Tanyel <tanyel@straightblack.com>

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 10:29 AM

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I did read the text. Did you notice how you called my statement inane, yet I am still right? I answered a question. You insulted me because you could not find a way to force me to be wrong. I would explain it all to you if I thought you really believed I was wrong.

#21 Sorry, no dice

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 7:43 PM

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You ARE wrong. The concept that mozilla.org should have "just changed the name" is itself inane. It takes MONTHS to find a new name, and by the time they did so, it'd probably be time to rename it to Mozilla Browser.

#24 Re: Sorry, no dice

by Tanyel <tanyel@straightblack.com>

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 9:53 PM

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"You ARE wrong. The concept that mozilla.org should have "just changed the name" is itself inane. It takes MONTHS to find a new name, and by the time they did so, it'd probably be time to rename it to Mozilla Browser."

Roach, the question was, "why the heck did we have to go through this?" The answer is, "Because Mozilla did not just choose a new name when the problem started." If the question was, "what is something easy for Mozilla to do?" then my answer might be wrong. However, that was not the question. You are focusing on the perceived difficulty of avoiding the problem. The question was related to what caused the problem rather than the difficulty of avoiding the problem. I refuse to believe you are too stupid to understand this.

#31 just try to think a little deeper

by joschi

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 12:38 PM

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to "just choose a new name when the problem started" was not an option (hint: it takes months to clear a possible name), so its an inane answere.

#38 That's the most absurd thing I've ever read.

by jonadab <jonadab@bright.net>

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 2:51 PM

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> Because Mozilla did not just choose a new name when the problem started.

Huh? After being mailbombed with no warning and for no legitimate reason, the correct responce is to do whatever the mailbombers say? No. Not only would that not be a good response, there would be no excuse for it. You don't EVER give in to people who are making absurd demands simply because they behave badly. It reinforces bad behavior and makes things worse. Always.

#2 heh

by NXprime

Monday May 12th, 2003 9:14 PM

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such lovely drama :)

#5 Mozilla.org's original plan?

by the_Rebel

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 12:32 AM

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Mitchell's letter makes it sound as if "Mozilla Firebird Browser" was always intended as a temporary name which would be replaced by "Mozilla Browser" within a few milestones. Based upon what she says here, it is as if mozilla.org never wanted to call it simply "Firebird." The implication also seems to be that it was never intended to be used as a public name and was just a intermediate name to help developers distinguish from SeaMonkey.

Although Mitchell's letter fits quite nicely with Christopher Blizzard's mozilla branding document that was introduced late last month, neither of these seem to mesh with the original announcement of the Firebird name. If the current mozilla.org position is the same as what was intended a month ago, then mozilla.org did an extremely poor job of presenting it and mozilla.org was much too slow at clarifying things once the heated debate began.

Phoenix was quite clearly a very public name; it was the name of the browser and not just an internal developer name for the project. Contrast the Phoenix name usage with how SeaMonkey has been used and it is quite clear that there is a major difference. By stating that Phoenix was being renamed Firebird, mozilla.org should have expected Firebird to be used in the same manner as how Phoenix has been used rather than how SeaMonkey has been used; that is certainly how the public perceived the announcement. If mozilla.org did not intend for it to be used that way then mozilla.org should have publicly clarified the situation immediately instead of waiting almost 2 weeks for Blizzard's branding document to surface.

#6 Re: Mozilla.org's original plan?

by Kircle

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 1:15 AM

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Just kind of curious, what statement in the letter makes you believe that "it is as if mozilla.org never wanted to call it simply 'Firebird.'" I'm not seeing it.

#7 get over it

by joschi

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 1:20 AM

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this is done. i mean really, what's left to talk about that hasnt been said 90 times already? what's the point of dragging this on and on and on and on....

#12 Re: get over it

by tseelee

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 7:33 AM

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Mozilla.org felt the need to get over this issue. It's not the users who are having trouble getting over it.

#18 true

by joschi

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 2:07 PM

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"Mozilla.org felt the need to get over this issue. It's not the users who are having trouble getting over it."

its true both mozilla.org and its userbase have moved on from the dead non-issue, so why havnt you?

#27 Response to bullying

by sphealey

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 8:57 AM

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When a person or organization is caught in the act of bullying, a very common defensive response is "get over it", "loosen up", "its over with", and so forth.<P>Unfortunatly for Mozilla.org, it is the person/organization being bullied, not the bully-er, that decides what the ultimate response will be.<P>Personally, I think that mozilla.org has behaved both stupidly and badly from the beginning to now in this whole situation, starting with the choice of a name as cliched as "Firebird" and contining to this latest Clintonian non-apology.<P>How about this: Mozilla chooses a new (and better) name [REGARDLESS of how much work that will be], apologizes, and THEN "moves on".<P>sPh

#32 or how about...

by joschi

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 12:41 PM

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firebird sql has no legal or moral ground to stand on. they acted childishly and lost any upper hand they might have had in the good will department. they in fact are the only bullies in this situation. mozilla.org has significantly backed down from this, and still the onslaught of single minded trolls representing the sql side of things wont let it drop. its a done deal, its over, move along.

#36 Re: or how about...

by sphealey

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 12:50 PM

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> firebird sql has no legal or moral ground to stand on. > they acted childishly and lost any upper hand they > might have had in the good will department. they in > fact are the only bullies in this situation.

First, I have no connection of any type with the Firebird SQL project. I don't use that software and I do not know or work with anyone who does.

Second, I understand and can respect your opinion, although I don't personally agree with it.

> its a done deal, its over, move along.

Here's where I disagree. Mozilla.org does not have a magic button to unilaterally end this dispute. If it did, it should forget about browsers and sell that button instead.

Mozilla.org took an action. That action created a dispute. If Mozilla wants to end the dispute, it can (a) communicate and negotiate in good faith with the representative of the other party (b) file a lawsuit against the other party asking the court to declare the dispute a non-issue.

What they CAN'T do is make the dispute go away by acting in an arrogant and high-handed manner. Nor even by issuing "positioning documents" which seem to admit some fault in an arrogant and back-handed manner.

That's my opinion, anyway.

sPh

#9 Re: Mozilla.org's original plan?

by vnv

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 2:54 AM

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This 'archeology of thoughts and intentions' does not make any sense at the moment. Looking for winners and losers does not make sense too - with any solution that is acceptable for both sides the whole free software community is a winner.

#22 No

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 7:45 PM

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You can't contrast Phoenix with Mozilla. Phoenix was developer outside of Mozilla. Phoenix is now being integrated into the mozilla.org fold as a browser-only product, and as such it will fall in line with mozilla.org guidelines, which it didn't before (being outside of mozilla.org).

#8 Mozilla's doing The Right Thing™

by Waldo

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 2:51 AM

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I'm glad to see they're phasing out the Firebird name. To do otherwise would be really unfriendly, even if legally valid. The "temporary name" thing may be a way to save face, but congrats to the Mozilla team for making a difficult but ultimately neighborly move. You are a real class act.

W

#10 Boohoo

by brokenvoice

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 5:19 AM

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As a stalwart supporter of Mozilla.org's technology offerings, I'm just appalled by the attitude that Mozilla and by extension AOL (their trademark lawyers after all) have adopted here.

Decent planning (something that Mozilla.org has lacked in many many areas) could have avoided this whole damn mess. They (IBPhoenix) had the name before Mozilla and it's a cheesy as hell name at that. Give products names that mean something and you build a better brand. Firebird for a muscle car is great but for software it's hokey.

Grow up, stop slapping (TM) everywhere if its just a project code name and hire some decent (i.e. non-logorrheic) marketers because you obviously couldn't name a tune.

#14 Re: Boohoo

by Plutor

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 7:49 AM

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> They (IBPhoenix) had the name before Mozilla and it's a cheesy as hell name at that. Give products names that mean something and you build a better brand. Firebird for a muscle car is great but for software it's hokey.

Can you please explain to me why Firebird is a "great" name for a muscle car, but is "cheesy as hell" for a technology product? It does not "mean" anything more in a car context than it does in a web-browser, database, or BBS context. It does not, for that matter, mean anything less than "Mozilla", "Phoenix", or even "Hamburger".

I do agree that this whole mess could have been avoided, considering that the Mozilla team seems to be now moving away from a name at all. But really, what has it changed? Nothing. Some people will be upset and might not use Mozilla as their browser, but I don't believe that people who merely pick a browser based on how "nice" the development team is are really the audience that Mozilla is aiming for.

#25 Re: Boohoo

by erickleung

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 10:29 PM

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The letter seems not explain why a existing product 'Phoenix' is necessary to change to 'Mozilla Firebird'. Is it more direct for 'Phoenix' --> 'Mozilla Phoenix'?

Why it is necessary to go through a series of renaming within several weeks/months which is the decisions after months well planning? 'Phoenix' --> 'Mozilla Firebird' --> 'Mozilla Browser' while maintaining a series 'Mozilla 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4....'?

From the download site, the same product is named different for various OS. In the mean time, the web site still use 'phoenix', and we could download 'phoenix' which is actually 'Mozilla Firebird' but it is called 'Firebird' ported for MacOS. no wonder it creates confusion for BugZilla.

#13 Order! Order!

by cactusleague <gaasbyte@netscape.net>

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 7:37 AM

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You guys are pissng a lot of people off. I don't think that you meant to do that but it sure is turning out that way. What ever happened to that "Open Source" spirit you all started with? Will I see this issue coming before "Judge Judy" next week?

#15 Waste of time

by lsces

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 9:27 AM

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If the name was going to be around for only another couple of months, then there was no need to change it from Phoenix, and a simple Mozilla Phoenix would have helped in those months.

Mozilla Firebird was PLANNED as a new product. The current climbdown is simply a turning of tails because the main suite project was hitting choppy waters, and the spin offs were performing better ( in some peoples opinions ).

If only someone would admit that it was a cockup, and acknowledge that they knew there was a problem when we told them there was last year, then I would be happy. Just simply to ignore unpalitable facts is not good business practice.

#17 Re: Waste of time

by bzbarsky

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 12:18 PM

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> If the name was going to be around for only another couple of months, then there > was no need to change it from Phoenix,

Except for the imminent lawsuit being threatened of course. But yes, no rush at all other than that little detail.

#20 Re: Waste of time

by GAThrawn

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 7:07 PM

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"Mozilla Firebird was PLANNED as a new product."

I realise that many of you haven't been closely following Mozilla development for very long, but you'll notice that just less than two weeks before the renaming announcment was made there was a pretty major announcement <http://www.mozillazine.or…articles/article3042.html> (If memory serves this was visible on Mozillazine.org's homepage at the same time as the naming aannouncement).

This states that work on the current Mozilla suite is being phased out, and in its place the (then named) Phoenix browser, Minotaur mail program and other components would become separate components all based on Gecko. These would then become the new Mozilla, in fact as stated in the linked Mozilla.org roadmap <http://www.mozilla.org/roadmap.html> Mozilla.org would probably distribute a bundle of them all (called Mozilla, with browser, mail etc components) meaning that the distributed, packaged, hyped products would be called Mozilla.

This was later re-iterated in the Branding document.

Now if you're talking about Phoenix, that was a separate product originally developed as a hobby outside of Mozilla.org in developer's spare time, but eventually brought back under the Mozilla.org's wing. However it was never planned as a separate product by Mozilla.org as it was originally developed outside of Mozilla.org's control, when Mozilla.org saw its value they slowly took it under their wing and then decided to make it the core of the new (post 1.4) Mozilla, but they never planned it to be a separate product.

#28 Re: Re: Waste of time

by lsces

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 9:00 AM

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Now if you're talking about Phoenix, that was a separate product originally developed as a hobby outside of Mozilla.org in developer's spare time, but eventually brought back under the Mozilla.org's wing. However it was never planned as a separate product by Mozilla.org as it was originally developed outside of Mozilla.org's control, when Mozilla.org saw its value they slowly took it under their wing and then decided to make it the core of the new (post 1.4) Mozilla, but they never planned it to be a separate product.

But the renaming exercise was started last November, when Phoenix WAS a separated product. IF the new roadmap was to replace Phoenix with an internal browser module surely there was no need to waste the time changing the name. You just use the roadmap document to solve the problem with Pheonix!

#33 come on, you are being thick

by joschi

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 12:45 PM

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mozilla couldnt use the name phoenix for *another* browser, even internally, that would be a clear conflict with the bios folks. furthermore, it would be stupid and add confusion. firebird on the other hand was legally clear and there was no place for confusion (dont even try to suggest a database might get confused with a browser, no ones buying that) ... so saying they should have used phoenix internally is moot.

#39 Re: come on, you are being thick

by lsces

Thursday May 15th, 2003 3:11 AM

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(dont even try to suggest a database might get confused with a browser, no ones buying that)

BECAUSE NOONE ACCEPTS THAT THE FIREBIRD DATA SUITE INCLUDES BROWSERS TO BROWSE FIREBIRD DATA !!!!!!!!

Sod the legal arguments - I have a FIREBIRD browser on every customer decktop - it looks a a Firebird database - end of story

#19 The victors

by guanxi

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 3:27 PM

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"... media articles have declared the Firebird database community as the victors ..."

Out of curiosity, what was it Mozilla.org was trying to win? What did we have to gain?

#23 Re: The victors

by thegrommit

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 8:49 PM

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There are no victors. The Firebird community look like asses for their initial reaction, and mozilla.org look like idiots for not doing a better job in choosing a name.

#29 Re: Re: The victors

by lsces

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 9:03 AM

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The Firebird community look like asses for their initial reaction,

INITIAL REACTION?

We had asked politly last year - and the reply four months later was "We can legally do this"

The asses are the people who simply did not bother to listen!

#34 no, you are asses, everyone sees it

by joschi

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 12:47 PM

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you organised an offical mailbombing campaign to harras the mozilla.org group into bowing before your will. not exactly neighborly.

look, you have no legal or moral ground left to stand on, drop it.

#26 Whatever

by Tanyel <tanyel@straightblack.com>

Tuesday May 13th, 2003 10:43 PM

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"Some recent media articles have declared the Firebird database community as the victors in the naming dispute. Later this week, MozillaZine hopes to publish an exclusive interview with a senior mozilla.org staff member, which will shed some new light on the situation and clarify mozilla.org's current position."

If this article will be the carrying on of a grudge it appears to be, it will probably start another set of arguments and simple Mozilla people will blame the database group for perpetuating the argument. It seems Mozilla does not want this problem to end either.

#30 If Mozilla is bullying, why'd they rename Chimera?

by Kelson

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 10:31 AM

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One thing the "stop bullying Firebird" crowd seems to be ignoring: Chimera/Camino.

Before Phoenix was started, a project was already underway to create a Mozilla-based native browser for Mac OS X, which they called Chimera.

Then someone noticed there was already a Chimera browser out there. For Unix. That hadn't been updated since 1997. (Although it does look like people have been collecting patches for it).

To avoid confusion over two browsers called Chimera, they changed the name.

This project was practically dead, for a different computing platform, very low-profile, and extremely unlikely to sue, but because it was a browser, Mozilla found a new name for its own project.

According to the "stop bullying Firebird" crowd, Mozilla "stole" the Firebird name "because they could" and because they didn't care. I'd argue that they could have *much* more easily kept the Chimera name, with far less controversy, and its renaming demonstrates what Mozilla.org has said from the start: They went with Firebird because *they didn't think it would be a problem,* because they didn't think anyone in their right mind would get a database server and a browser mixed up, and because the name itself doesn't conjure up thoughts of either.

This is not Mozilla beating up Firebird for its lunch money. This is not Mozilla cutting in line in front of Firebird. This is not Mozilla saying "Are you going to eat that?" and grabbing Firebird's cookies. At most, this is nothing more than Mozilla sitting down at the same table in a crowded cafeteria without asking. Inconsiderate, perhaps, but not bullying by a longshot.

#35 haha... thanks :)

by joschi

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 12:49 PM

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"This is not Mozilla beating up Firebird for its lunch money. This is not Mozilla cutting in line in front of Firebird. This is not Mozilla saying "Are you going to eat that?" and grabbing Firebird's cookies. At most, this is nothing more than Mozilla sitting down at the same table in a crowded cafeteria without asking. Inconsiderate, perhaps, but not bullying by a longshot."

this gave me a good laugh this morning.

#37 Bullying? Get real.

by jonadab <jonadab@bright.net>

Wednesday May 14th, 2003 2:32 PM

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Bullying? By using a name like "Firebird"? Seriously? "Firebird"? What potent narcotics would make *anyone* think a name as absurdly generic as "Firebird" could *possibly* be trademarkable? How many hundreds of products over the years have been called "Firebird"? How many dozens of software products? Next the Firebird Database people will be whining about MySQL infringing on them by using the term "database". Sheesh, get a life.

AOL's trademark lawyers researched this carefully and chose a name that couldn't possibly be a problem. And they're right: it couldn't possibly be (and isn't) a problem. The Firebird Database people are just trying to pretend the world revolves around them. If they did a google search for Firebird software and made themselves look through a few thousand of the resulting pages, maybe they'd wake up and realise they *never* had a lock on that name. Not even a third of the pages related to the words "firebird" and "software" have any reference at all to "database", "databases", or "sql". Their use of that word as a name for their project is incidental; in no way can it be construed as their trademark.