Lesson well taken, thanks Mozilla

When Mozilla trademarked Firefox, many people complained loudly. How dared Mozilla trademark a name related to open source and free software... I did not complain. I made comments, because the original trademark policy needed some light clarifications, but I did not complain at all. I found it perfectly wise and normal for Mozilla to protect the name of its flagship product to avoid clones of Firefox under the same name/logo. I never found the trademark harmful to the Open Source nature of Firefox and still think the free zealots who switched the name/logo to Iceweasel are stupid fanatics. Ubuntu's name and logo are protected too and they never shout at that.

So when I started working on my current new editor, I did the same and trademarked BlueGriffon immediately.

And since a pure copy of http://bluegriffon.org appeared some days ago under the URL http://bluegriffon.FR, it was a good idea. The site was such a copy of mine that the TM signs, the logo, the prose, the images, everything was copied. The download links were changed, the contact emails were changed and more important, ads were added... The cybersquatter behind that is apparently well known to copy/abuse very visible open source or free projects to drive ad-based income.

Here, thanks to the TM registration, a cease-and-desist letter was enough. The domain is now in the hands of my company even if the DNS changes are not widely spread yet. A legal action would have given the same result : TM infringement was clear, and AFNIC rules were clearly in our favor.

So thanks Mozilla, thanks a lot for the lesson. Sincerely.


1. On Monday 7 February 2011, 17:20 by Aleksej

I don't know for sure, but I think that in both cases (FSF and Debian) if they hadn't changed the name and logo, but used the trademarked ones, it would have been a trademark violation.

2. On Monday 7 February 2011, 17:24 by Aleksej

Also, IIRC, a problem with the logo for Debian was that it was non-free by copyright, not that it was trademarked.

3. On Monday 7 February 2011, 17:28 by Guid

Those who use iceweasel are very often on another OS than Ubuntu

4. On Monday 7 February 2011, 17:50 by Philip_Marlowe

So people who switched the name/logo from Firefox to Iceweasel to include it into Debian are free zealots and stupid fanatics. Insulted twice, wow. They didn't have good reasons, did they?

5. On Monday 7 February 2011, 17:59 by Daniel Glazman

@Philip_Marlowe: I don't think the reasons were good _at all_.

6. On Monday 7 February 2011, 18:05 by Guid

@Daniel: so you would prefer the trademark violation from Debian?

7. On Monday 7 February 2011, 18:20 by Daniel Glazman

@Guid: my point is that Debian and Mozilla could have found easily an agreement here. But the fact the name and logo were TM'd were a blocker to some people. And I fail to see why and how it changes the OSS nature of Firefox.

8. On Monday 7 February 2011, 18:49 by Guid

A specific agreement cannot be possible because it's against the debian guidelines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icewea...
It's easy to understand that Debian cannot use the brand "firefox" and icon resources without *changing its own guidelines*.
Therefore, I understand why Mozilla copyrighted its products AND I understand why Debian Project cannot use non-entirely free projects: it doesn't make Debian users stupid fanatics and it doesn't make Mozilla stupid stubborn organization as well.

9. On Monday 7 February 2011, 19:19 by Remi

Something I don't understand :

From debian.org : "Debian is a registered trademark of Software in the Public Interest, Inc."

So debian is definitively not an true OpenSource distro ? ;)

10. On Monday 7 February 2011, 19:50 by jblache

Daniel, you are either misinformed or deliberately trolling here.

Mozilla's terms and conditions for using its trademarks were simply not workable for any distribution out there.

It was not possible to apply a single patch to the Mozilla codebase without getting prior approval, something that could easily have taken weeks or even months at the time. You know way better than me how much time it could take to get patches reviewed in the past, you've even complained about it once or twice IIRC.

This made security updates impossible. Plain and simple.

A specific exception for Debian was not acceptable as it would not apply to downstream recipients, failing the DFSG.

As others have pointed out already, the artwork was also licensed under a non-free license.

Talks with people in charge on the Mozilla side have been nothing short of epic, from what I've been told.

They did not leave us with much of a choice, really.


11. On Monday 7 February 2011, 21:42 by Np237

I agree with you, Daniel. Those spending so much time and effort finding a way to include Firefox in Debian, having to use a different name, are stupid fanatics. They would have better spent their time working on web browsers without insane trademark policies.

12. On Monday 7 February 2011, 22:49 by Jon

@Np237: at least one good thing came out of it; Google learned the lesson and thus chromium sails in.

13. On Tuesday 8 February 2011, 10:43 by Wladimir Palant

Daniel, I fully agree with you - the discussion was pretty ridiculous and driven by blind fanaticism back then and now you seem to have attracted some of it into your blog. Protecting Firefox trademarks was an absolute must if these trademarks are to stand for a product anybody can rely on. Unfortunately, some people insist on everything being "free" without even trying to understand the reasons of the other side and showing any signs of willingness to compromise.

@jblache: How comes that Ubuntu or Fedora seem to cope with Mozilla's terms and even bring out security updates? Maybe these terms aren't unworkable after all?

Yes, modifications to the official version need to be approved by Mozilla. Mozilla puts lots of effort into quality assurance and Mozilla also has the developers who know that code best. If Debian developers think that they can do better (particularly as security updates go) then they are simply being delusional. Situations where the distribution-supplied Firefox build had bugs that didn't occur in the official builds used to be pretty common. The bug reports I filed never got resolved, so the expertise of Linux distributors doesn't seem to extend very far - they introduce bugs (and damage Firefox reputation because nobody will blame Debian/Ubuntu/Fedora, only Mozilla) but they are unable to fix these bugs then.

@Jon: So Google allowed to use the name "Google Chrome" in distribution-modified builds? Because "Chromium" is the Google equivalent of "Minefield" - and using "Minefield" name and logo is also free.

14. On Tuesday 8 February 2011, 11:36 by kwyxz

« The bug reports I filed never got resolved, so the expertise of Linux distributors doesn't seem to extend very far »

Well a bugreport I commented into years ago in the official Firefox Bugzilla is still not resolved either. Following the same kind of logic, what does this tell us about the expertise of Firefox developers then ?

15. On Tuesday 8 February 2011, 12:26 by Sam Hocevar

Hello there! Just a quick note to point out that the VideoLAN and VLC trademarks, in use since twice as long as Firefox, have never prevented any Linux distribution from shipping VLC, under its original name and with its original logo.

There are aggressive individuals spending significant amounts of time complaining about the work of others in the VideoLAN team, too. They can be an embarrassment to everyone. But there is no VideoLAN Corporation.

Have fun!

16. On Tuesday 8 February 2011, 14:01 by Guid

So, If I understand well some guys here, Debian project should make an exception to its guidelines only for Firefox. Wow.

They posted on the same topic

1. On Monday 7 February 2011, 20:48 by glandium.org

Yet another clarification about Iceweasel

I’m glad that 5 years after the facts, people are still not getting them straight. The Firefox logo was not under a free copyright license. Therefore, Debian was using the Firefox name with the “earth” logo (without the fox), which wa......