Trademark Policy Hits 1.0

The Mozilla Trademark Policy is now at version 1.0. We’ve tried very hard to balance the need to maintain control of our trademarks as a sign of quality with the desire to allow the community to use the trademarks to refer to and discuss Foundation products and to describe their relationship to Mozilla/Firefox/Thunderbird.

The attitudes of members of the free software community to trademarks is far more varied than attitudes to both copyrights (generally good) and patents (generally bad). How free is a piece of software if you have to remove all trademarks before you can make certain modifications? Does it depend on how hard it is to remove the trademarks? Does it depend on whether the trademarks have a functional purpose? Is it still free if you have to change the name of the binary, or do symlinks make that question irrelevant anyway?

These are hard questions. But we are convinced that it’s possible to make truly free software and still have strong brand protection, and we hope this policy is a good stab at doing that.

11 thoughts on “Trademark Policy Hits 1.0

  1. Did I mention (I think I did, in my not-so-famous what-happened-at-cebit mail to staff) that the wikipedia folks are really glad that we dealt with this first? So they can just look at what we do and point our way?

    Bleeding edge, in the almost-literal sense of the phrase.

  2. Congratulations on getting to 1.0 on the trademark policy! Well I know how difficult it is to get these sorts of things hashed out and agreed to :-)

    BTW, I hate to mention this, but there are at least two minor typos I found: In the trademark policy you have “arenot” instead of “are not”, and in the FAQ (IIRC) you have “if if” instead of “if”.

  3. Special thanks for the use of the plural form when referring to The Company. Keeping English sensible.

    – Chris

  4. Nice document. Are you going to actively inform known distributors. I’m mainly thinking about linux distributors. They normally make what you call comunity builds. I think it would be a bit strange if Firefox would be shown as “Firefox Community Build” in the menu entry. As most distros make quite high quality builds there should be the possibility that a clear enough “about” statement suffices. But I think those things will play out nicely in the end.

  5. I agree with tr, they usually only change the homepage and theme, and possibly the default settings but thats it.

  6. Well, usually, unless they’re Debian, which has been known to make changes that m.o refuses to take (like enabling ALT text for tooltips on images). Heck, at one time there was (probably still is) a nice big splash on one of the bug-filing pages directing Debian users to Debian’s bug database.

  7. * Proper Form — Quite sensible.
    * Accompanying Symbol — Reasonable, but rarely done, even by news organizations such as newspapers or online news sites. Don’t get your hopes up.
    * Notice — The only time I’ve ever seen this done is in advertisements by partners or competitors. Widespread use of the TM symbol has a better chance.
    * Distinguishable — I’ve seen this request maybe a handful of times, and never see it respected. It’s really going way too far. Even Adobe doesn’t ask this much. Silly, IMHO.

    “Serious Modifications” – “based on Mozilla technology”
    Quite reasonable, but maybe meeting folks halfway would be better. “based on Mozilla Firefox technology” since the Firefox name is more well known. It’s still respective of the trademark, since it’s the proper form.

    “Related Software”
    This won’t fly either. Microsoft, Adobe, and other vendors don’t even expect this. Microsoft tried to claim rights to product names starting with “Win” and the courts said that’s not going to happen. Unreasonable request.

    The rest seems quite reasonable.

  8. As an example of Grey’s criticism, the website breaks these guidelines all over the place. Is anyone volunteering to go through the thousands of pages and ensure the trademark is in the correct form, has a trademark symbol and is in bold? Or is Mozilla going to ignore its own guidelines?

    You’re not even setting an example yourself (“Mozilla/Firefox/Thunderbird”) – I hope your future blog entries will all refer to Mozilla Firefox™ and Thunderbird™.

    There must be thousands, if not millions, of websites that are breaking these guidelines already. Are the Foundation actually going to go around chasing down every website which fails to follow the trademark guidelines? If a website isn’t actually offering something for sale or download I doubt that the Foundation would get anywhere under trademark law anyway.

  9. I’m really not happy with the “Related Software” clause.
    I understand it is only a request, however countless extensions and products are already called FireSomething, and I personally know of 2 commercial extensions/plugins that use the Fire* name that will be released soon.

    Assuming these companies went through the whole trademark process before hand (and before this 1.0) I don’t see where this helps.

    The second issue is that this seems to be as pathetic as Microsoft trying to prevent the use of the prefix/word “Win” when referencing any program for windows (winzip, winfax, etc).

    This is both lame and a pathetic attempt at acheiving something without having put full thought into the process.

    I really hope this will be addresses promptly.

  10. The Trademark should be set apart from surrounding text, either by capitalizing it or by italicizing, bolding or underlining it.

    When you say “Capitalizing”, do you mean capitalizing the first letter (of each word) or capitalizing every letter?

    For example, it would be inappropriate for them to say ‘based on Mozilla Firefox’.

    I don’t see what’s confusing about that.

    high-resolution copies of Mozilla logos

    I’d say “high-resolution or vector copies of Mozilla logos”.

    Why is “” capitalized in this document? I usually see it as “” and I’ve seen people corrected for capitalizing it when they shouldn’t.

    One sentence uses “Mozilla disapproves” and “Mozilla believe” in the same sentence. Please use the US style or the UK style consistently.

  11. I can�t imagine anyone outside the Foundation liking the new policy. It will be ignored, ridiculed or very rarely very reluctantly complied with.

    As pointed out above, even your own blog post demonstrates how unrealistic the policy is. Asking people to spell the names correctly is reasonable. Insisting on trademark symbols or textual acknowledgements is not.

    On a positive note, at least it does not insist that the trademarks be used as adjectives (eg. Java technology) or that the trademarks be invariant in spelling even if the surrounding language requires suffices or something.

    jwz�s guidelines say should not be capitalized.