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.
#5 Mozilla.org's original plan?
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.