Christopher Blizzard of mozilla.org Speaks on the Firebird Naming Conflict
Wednesday May 14th, 2003
Last week, CNET News.com published another report on the Firebird naming conflict. Claiming that the application of the Mozilla branding guidelines is tantamount to a back down on the part of mozilla.org, the article credits Jonathan Walther with resolving the disagreement. Walther was asked to mediate by Ann Harrison, one of the administrators of the Firebird database project. The article also reiterates the database project's claims of legal righteousness, which have since been challenged by Mitchell Baker. The open-source advocacy magazine Open has also printed an article about the dispute, featuring interviews with Harrison and Walther. The piece appears to fully support the position of the Firebird database project and lavishes praise on Walther. Neither article contains any statements from mozilla.org.
More recently, the Australian LinuxWorld also awarded victory to the Firebird database project. While the article is decidedly in favour of the database group, it does at least quote sixteen words from mozilla.org's Christopher Blizzard (compared to 478 from representatives of the Firebird database community). The report makes several bizzare statements (including a claim that MozillaZine is run by Asa Dotzler), mentions an open letter allegedly sent by Walther to Harrison and MozillaZine (we've never seen it) and finishes off with an advert for the next week's Firebird database conference. It looks like you'll have to go to sites like MozillaNews if you want to read any remotely pro-Mozilla coverage. Thanks to everyone who sent us links to articles.
We at MozillaZine weren't satisfied with the rather one-sided reporting from the mainstream tech news sites, so we got in touch with mozilla.org to find out their real position. As a result, we're pleased to present an exclusive interview with Christopher Blizzard, the Red Hat employee and mozilla.org staff member who authored the Mozilla branding guidelines.
Update! LWN.net have a report on the interview. The first reader comment on their article is from Jonathan Walther. It makes it very clear where he stands on the issue.
#63 For those of you who haven't been paying attention
Friday May 16th, 2003 4:42 AM
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I've kept my mouth shut since the beginning. But after reading some of the posts, I just have to respond. For once (and to replies of course). You can say I'm with the Firebird database engine camp, if you like :)
Let's set some things straight:
1) The database engine product name is "Firebird". A shitty name or not - that's not the question. 2) There's a foundation called "FirebirdSQL Foundation" - don't ask me why "SQL" was slapped to it. 3) There aren't "a whole lot of other projects with Firebird in it's name" - that's plain bull. Yes, there are projects, but for the exception of "Firebird BBS" and some IDE for another product, these are related to the Firebird database engine. Never mind any company names called "Firebird" - that's besides the point. 4) The problem - as it started out - was NOT caused by Mozilla.org renaming "Phoenix" to "Mozilla Firebird". The problem was caused by news (for example on MozillaZine.org) saying the Phoenix browser project was to be renamed to Firebird(tm). Get it? Not Mozilla Firebird, but Firebird(tm). Notice the -tm- part. This forum had the (tm) symbol slapped all over. Adding a (tm) symbol to a (product) name, means you are going to enforce the right of using that name for your product. 5) As the Firebird database engine has been using the Firebird name as it's name for 3 years (without anyone claiming that it couldn't), the Firebird admins and foundation got a bit worried here, seeing their name being claimed by some other organization. 6) First emails to Mozilla(Zine) related people and posts in forums at this site saying that Firebird is a database engine got a simple response: "It's legal - get over it." ... This was a consistent reply from all fronts. 7) Any claims that "it's legal" are wrong. When push comes to shove, anyone saying "no-one will confuse a browser with a database" doesn't have a leg to stand on if it comes to trademark law. 8) Anyone saying Firebird is car should read trademark law. Besides, it wasn't trademarked as "Firebird" but as "Pontiac Firebird". One thing you _can_ learn from this comment is that whatever you place in front of it, in the natural language use, it will always become "Firebird" like in "Microsoft Powerpoint" is "Powerpoint". 9) Reading trademark law, when someone else starts claiming a trademark that you (think you) own, you should start defending it, or you simply loose. 10) The "mail-bomb campaign" as started by IBPhoenix was NOT a mailbomb campaign. People at IBPhoenix asked Firebird users/related people to POLITELY ask admins at Mozilla.org (of which the addresses are publicly available, unlike some want us to believe) to reconsider what was going on. Note, this happened AFTER a response was given - en public - that "it is legal - get over it". 11) The "mail-bomb campaign" kinda got out of hand - and was asked to be stopped. IBPhoenix asked people to stop sending emails. 12) Yet, Mozilla.org KNEW about the Firebird database engine project. Instead of saying "Heck, how would we know this was going to happen", they SIMPLY could have send an email to the Firebird admins to avoid this mess. Don't give me crap about the secrecy of internal code names at that time, 'cause we didn't get the impression that it _was_ an internal code name. 13) IF this would be an internal code name, why did AOL legal have to go over it? Since when do (nternal)code names have anything to do with trademark law? Even if so, before it became (officially) "Mozilla Firebird" - shouldn't AOL legal have seen the Firebird database engine project? Simple answer: YES. 14) For those who say: why didn't you register it then? Another simple answer: YOU DON'T HAVE TO to claim a trademark. 15) For those saying that it's very bad to start mail-bomb campaigns, do note that the web-server from IBPhoenix was hacked and (software) completely destroyed and had to be replaced... So don't start that Mozilla supporters are more friendly than Firebird supporters.
Any more questions? Feel free to flame me - at this forum - and I'll respond. Note that all the above are my own opinions and not those from the Firebird admins or foundation.
-- Martijn Tonies