Mozilla Foundation Open Letter Orders Unofficial Mozilla Merchandise Sellers to Stop, Legal Action Hinted
Tuesday March 16th, 2004
mozilla.org staff member Gervase Markham has posted an open letter to the Mozilla newsgroups addressed to those who sell goods bearing the Mozilla name or logos: "The following is an open letter to anyone selling Mozilla-branded merchandise. It's being posted rather than emailed in the spirit of openness, and to ensure everyone who needs to read it can see a copy."
The letter urges those selling products with the Mozilla insignia to stop and contact the Mozilla Foundation for further discussion on how to proceed. Noting that the retailing of Mozilla-branded wares without permission is an infringment of the Foundation's trademark rights, the letter hints that legal action may taken against those who refuse to heed the advice. Read the full article to see the complete letter.
#30 Re: Re:
Wednesday March 17th, 2004 1:09 PM
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I think you're missing the point. I've followed quite a lot of the public side of the branding discussion and this is a brief summary of what I've learnt:
In order to keep a trademark, one has to defend it. This is a legal requirment certianly in the US, probably also in other countries.
Without a trademark, there is nothing to stop other people making a product called "Mozilla" or "Firefox" (or indeed "XUL"). Therefore, if the Mozilla Foundation chooses to turn a blind eye to trademark infringment, there is nothing they can do if somone produces a different piece of software using the Firefox name. Or produces a different markup language and calls it XUL.
Given the license that the Mozilla code is under, the trademarks provide the only mechanism to distingush between offical and unofficial builds. If the foundation fail to protect these marks, they will have no way to prevent someone from distributing "Mozilla Firefox" with a keylogger so that all your credit card details get transmitted to the distributor. Nor is there any recourse if people start adding any other buggy, unstable code to the products and distributing them as "Mozilla Firefox".
There are other products which have a similar policy wrt trademarks. All Redhat software is Free with the exception of 2 RPMs of graphics which are non-free. Openoffice.org does somthing similar (I'm not quite sure of the details on that one).
It will be possible for distributers to get a license to use the name and logos. I'm sure that Redhat will get such a license. I'm not quiite sure of the licensing conditions so I can't say how hard it will be to get a license. In general it seems that the Foundtation will want to know exactly what changes are being made to the official build before granting a license. This is somewhat more strict than I would like (I would prefer a situatiion where anyone just applying patches which had the necessary level of r and sr to be included in the main tree could use the logo - this would make e.g. security patches easier), but may be legally necessary.
As expected (by me at least), this causes problems for Debian. I hope they can be resolved, although it's worth noting that Debian have distributed buggy (as in, 'with crash bugs not present in the original release) versions of Mozilla in the past.
Source Linux distributions like Gentoo may be screwed when it comes to getting official artwork. However, there is trademark-free artwork being produced by the visual identiity team. Everyone will be allowed to use this without restriction, even if their product is IE spyware which installs a keylogger, leaks memory and causes random crashes.
The siituation with third parties distributing Mozilla-branded merchandise is someone different from the code distribution issue in the sense that there's no obvious reason why third parties should be able to distribute Mozilla merchandise at all, whereas there is a clear need for them to distribute mozilla code. However, both types of trademark enforcment are required.
At present, people distributing Mozilla merchandise are profiting off the Mozilla name without contributing anything back (setting up a CafePress shop has basically no overheads). The only thing that the foundtation gains from this is a little brand exposure. Hopefully the quality of Mozilla merchandise willl improve to the point where people want to buy stuff from the official store (hopefully we'll also get a Mozilla-Europe store or mor generally something other than a North-American store).
Some third parties may be allowed to sell Mozilla-branded merchandise assuming they come to some arrangment with the Foundation. This seems to involve not competing with mozilla-store products and donating an acceptable cut of the revenue to the foundation.
Any rumours that McDonalds Happy Meals will start to come with little red dinos are strictly false.
Gerv's "Open Letter" was very friendly.