Firefox Trademark and Debian

<sigh>. Why is it the press never actually bother to ask the people involved before running with a story? Or, for that matter, actually reading the sources? RTFA clearly doesn’t just apply to Slashdot posters.

The Mozilla Foundation has applied for or is going through the process of applying for our trademark in the USA, the EU and other countries. The EU trademark gives us coverage in all EU countries, including Germany. We have a licence with the Firefox trademark holder in the UK; as a gesture of goodwill, we even have a link to them on Getting this worked out was one of the delaying factors in announcing the Firefox name, way back when. Having said that, the law provides protection for trade names even if a trademark has not yet been applied for.

We are currently discussing with Debian how we can come to an arrangement so that Debian can ship Firefox still being called “Firefox”, while we make sure that “Firefox” remains a mark of quality. The main issue is not with Debian itself – everyone agrees they ship quality software – more with the rights that are passed on to someone who modifies and redistributes Debian’s package.

Neither Debian nor any other Linux distributor is expected to be covered by the general trademark policy, as the article erroneously implies – that’s not even a suggestion. We understand their needs are different. We have agreements with many Linux distributors which gives them the flexibility they need in shipping software inside their system, and we would like to have one with Debian.

Rather than try and summarise or soundbite the position, I encourage anyone interested to actually read the thread (and the previous threads on this topic from several months ago). And ignore ZDNet’s attempts to create a mountain out of a molehill.

5 thoughts on “Firefox Trademark and Debian

  1. La marca Firefox

    FireFox tiene problemas de marca. Si bien en Estados Unidos el registro de la marca FireFox marcha sin problemas, en el Reino Unido, Alemania y España la cosa no parece que vaya a ser tan fácil. En los dos primeros son empresas de informática y tele

  2. Gerv,

    So what’s the story in Australia? It was the other nation mentioned in the story and you did not refut that.

    And based on how it works in the EU, if the German name is trademarked by some company, which the article indicates, is it possible to trademark it for the entire EU?

    I don’t want to speculate, so I thought you should be asked.

  3. tim: I’m assured by Chris Beard, the guy at the Foundation responsible for (among other things) trademark registrations, that everything is under control.

  4. Journalists don’t like facts! I’m apparently planning to open a calligraphy school in New York, according to one specimen. First I’d heard of it.