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.
In case anyone is wondering, the Mozilla foundation needs to do this to protect their trademark (for US trademarks, if you don't defend them you can't enforce them later on). While it might seem harmless to sell small mugs with the mozilla logo, it may cause problems later on if the Mozilla foundation wants to prevent eg. a porn site using the Firefox graphics as their logo.
What will be interesting is to see how the foundation handles licensing of the logos from now on. If all they want to do is protect the trademark, then giving licenses to the people selling merchandise is sufficient. At the same time, they could use this opportunity to store.mozilla.org the only place in the US to get such merchandise.
It is also worth noting that the Mozilla Foundation can only take legal action in areas where it has registered a trademark. So some non-US people may be able to legally ignore the letter (although morally, they should probably comply and get a license).