blog entry: "The Name “Firefox” Not Allowed In Ubuntu?"

Jan Claeys lists at
Sun Oct 1 16:43:55 BST 2006

Op vr, 29-09-2006 te 17:56 -0400, schreef Eric Dunbar:
> On 29/09/06, Jan Claeys <lists at> wrote:
> > The restrictions go way over what's needed for trademark
> > protection, so that's a bad excuse.  Of course they want to protect
> > their reputation and the uniform experience that people have when using
> > anything named "firefox", but that's mostly unrelated to the trademark
> > issue.
> I'm no IP lawyer so I can't judge whether they're being overly
> restrictive with regards to the trademark protection,

>From what I can see (looking at other similar trademarks in the
industry--which is a good way to look at legal issues IMHO ;) ) they do
much more than is needed, but their trademark gives them the rights to
do so (and they aren't the only ones to do so, but AFAIK most don't say
they need to do it to protect their trademark).

> but it does seem like this is a Debian problem and not a
> problem so it's Debian that needs to figure out a solution (and,
> presumably they are trying).

It's not different from other applications like Sun Java or several
multimedia codecs being banned to Debian's non-free repositories or even
outside those...

I think Debian would prefer Firefox to stay with the 'firefox' name, not
in the least because it saves them from having to rename a package after
distro freeze (meaning several other packages might need a change to
their dependencies too), but if doesn't provide a solution
they will stay to their principles.

> > Nevertheless, they have the rights to be so restrictive, so we'll have
> > to comply.  I hope for them that it won't backfire though, as it seems
> > like many people in the open source community don't like their current
> > policy...
> I don't think many end users really give two hoots about the Mozilla
> naming and QAQC policy being strict. I think it's a Good (tm ;-) thing
> because it keeps quality high and prevents Microsoft (and others) from
> killing it by "contributing" changes under its name (like MS has tried
> with so many standards)!

Some other projects use a license that disallows all sorts of bad
behaviour by forbidding the use of their trademark for anything that
would hurt their reputation etc., without giving such strict rules
That way you don't have to forbid the use of something to people who
didn't do anything wrong yet (which is what does now), but
you can still react _if_ someone does something bad to you.

And if they really want to keep quality high, they could provide a
(reasonable) test procedure to those third parties who want to release
slightly-changed firefox versions, instead of using a procedure
involving a very limited number of humans that can only become
bottleneck in the future, even preventing security upgrades from being
released in time etc.
(Wouldn't it be sad if Debian and Ubuntu have to rename firefox because
that's the only way to get "legal" security updates?  Because, from what
I understand, that's one of the reasons why the Debian maintainer wants
to rename firefox...)

Jan Claeys

More information about the sounder mailing list