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.
#68 Re: A reply... :-)
Friday May 16th, 2003 9:47 AM
You are replying to this message
> Please explain? What other Firebird projects? I've heard about "other Firebird projects" over and over again.
Point 3 in your initial post seemed (to me) quite dismissive of the other projects using Firebird as part of their name - like they were less important than the database or the web browser. I assume that wasn't your intention, but it's hard to be sure. I think you can see it would be a little hypocritical if you did think that the other projects were less important - so I thought I should check.
>Does this matter for trademark law?
I have no idea. I really don't know a lot about law at all, and I suspect I wouldn't like it much if I did. I had heard that you couldn't trademark a generic term, but I don't know the full truth of that (which isn't supposed to imply that 'firebird' is untrademarkable, or anything).
>However, for some reason, this particular MozillaZine article is rattling things up again
Well I was quite astonished to find that the 'mediator' who offered to help in the dispute held strong bias toward one side of the argument. It seemed that mozilla.org had been the victim of a 'Trojan Horse' as Gerv put it. His inflammatory anti Mozilla comments (which bear little relation to the problem at hand) haven't helped at all. (As an aside, I was also a little conerned by the 'special intervention' that google allegedly gave to ensure that Firebird retained the top spot. Not because I begrudge them the top ranking on that term - I don't, but because I would prefer a search engine where the rankings weren't 'massaged' at request)
>First, I'm responding because there are a lot of people reading and replying with a wrong view on things. Like thinking the product is called "FirebirdSQL"
Sadly that's life. People only believe what they want to believe. There are probably a whole bunch of people who thing that staff@mozilla are the devil incarnate and eat smaller open source projects for breakfast, which, in my experience, isn't true at all. As for people thinking that the project is called firebirdSQL, I think that might originally have been suggested as a less 'generic' name for the database project, which people latched onto as it provided a convenient way of unambigously referring to the Firebird database in a situation (a Mozilla specific forum) in which 'Firebird' might be interpreted as 'Firebird the Mozilla Browser'. It's possible that I'm just rewriting history there though.
>(I hope this piece of text looks somewhat more formatted)
Well done you figured out the world's most annoying comment parser ;)