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.
Friday May 16th, 2003 1:02 PM
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>> 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
No, not at all. One of the other "Firebird"s is an idea for some kind of game-editor like thingy, I believe. And the other one (yes, most probably the first in recent history) is the BBS. I'm not saying that the BBS is less important. But I am saying that if they're happy with "Firebird BBS" as their marked name, that's fine.
What I wanted to point out is things like "there are dozens of other Firebird projects" - which simply isn't true (that is: not related to the Firebird database engine). Also mentioned frequently, Firebird, the C64 gaming company. Well, who cares about that? They no longer exist as such, and it's a company name - which isn't relevant for this issue.
>>Does this matter for trademark law? > >I have no idea.
Well, simple: it doesn't. According to US trademark law, you can get a trademark by either registering it (in a certain country) or defending it when someone else (in the same area of interest -> cars & software don't mix, for example) tries the same name as you do. Or if you feel you will be "hurt" in any way with a similar name. That's why the (tm) stuff bothered Firebird people. See the difference? They HAD to respond - because else they/we would loose our right to claim a trademark.
>His inflammatory anti Mozilla comments (which bear little relation to the problem at hand) >haven't helped at all.
I must say, from reading the first posts/emails/etc from the 'mediator', everything was fine... What has gone wrong with his article, I don't know and can only guess. Perhaps he got pissed with reponses from Mozilla.org - I don't know.
Fact is, Mozilla.org as an organization isn't as easy to reach as it wants to believe. So actually getting someone to respond at Mozilla was a bit harder than anticipated.
>Sadly that's life. People only believe what they want to believe.
That's the reason I'm posting :) ... As said in the beginning: to set a few things straight. I don't have the slightest idea if it helped any - as the talkback probably isn't the most read thing either. Nevertheless, I got it of my back - which helps too :)
I hope things will get better and that Mozilla Firebird will be renamed to Mozilla Browser/Navigator/Explorer/Whatever soon. I still wonder why an "internal codename" (as it's being called _now_) has to go through AOL legal and all... But I guess I'll never know.
I'm sorry to read that many people now say: "I'll never try Firebird because of this mess, how good it is - I don't care". Of course, there are people who'll say the same thing about Mozilla Firebird.
And for the record, I DO believe that Mozilla Firebird will cause problems in relation to documents on the web... And for those people who say "well, everything is fine, Firebird is still on the top" I only can say: duh. How long since Mozilla Firebird got released as a name?
Also, thank you for the response.