I think it’s important to take a moment and address the recent reports of a “crack down” on Merchandise sellers using Mozilla trademarks.
First off. As most who read this website know my only affiliations with Mozilla.org are some patches I’ve written, debugging, and being a part of the Mozilla community.
I firmly back the Mozilla Foundations decision to enforce it’s trademarks for the good of the community. It is essential to the growth, security, and reputation of the Mozilla community as well as the foundation. Allow me to explain, and I promise that I won’t rant for to long.
While many of the vendors selling Mozilla products are said to be of high quality (I’ve yet to own a non-software Mozilla product myself though), all it takes is one person abusing the trademark, and delivering inferior, or lack of goods to give the name “Mozilla” a bad reputation. Many people mistakenly assume that having a logo on a shirt means an endorsement. Which it’s not. The Mozilla Foundation would face a losing battle providing quality assurance to ensure that the Mozilla name is tarnished by a bad merchandiser, or scam. That name would very likely in the minds of the potential target market be associated with scam, rather than “superior browser”. THAT is not good for the browser as a viable alternative to IE. The Mozilla Foundation can not put itself in a position where the Mozilla name could be tarnished, removing it’s software’s reputation. Remember Mozilla is about quality software. That’s the goal.
Secondly, the Mozilla Foundation does a lot for the community. From all the servers (tinderboxes, lxr, bugzilla, www, ftp), to organizing, and paying some of the most talented programmers in the United States (seriously, interact with these guys on Bugzilla or IRC and you know your dealing with pro’s). All of this costs money. It’s a vital role to the community that the Foundation as a core entity provides. The AOL money won’t last forever. Not by a long shot. Yes, Mozilla has other interested partners helping. Lots of programmers from other companies are seen around the community. But it’s essential as a community we keep Mozilla Foundation afloat. Mozilla Foundation should be receiving licensing fees for use of trademarks. It’s only appropriate that the foundation, and in turn the community benefits from the use of the trademarks. For those about pure benefit, imaging funds from good merchandise being able to fund the hiring of another programmer full time? Just a thought.
It’s essential that Mozilla ensure that it’s name be used on it’s products, and only it’s products, or products it officially sanctioned. It’s for the good of the community. The Mozilla community owes it to the end users to ensure that it’s name is pure, and it protects end users from bad products in it’s name.
On another note, think about the idea of someone distributing a Mozilla browser compiled with Spyware, or adware bundled in. That wouldn’t be good. Do we want them to be easily doing so with the Mozilla trademark? I think not.
To address the Debian situation very briefly, I do believe a solution will be reached. Mozilla is a key product to the Linux community, and the Linux community is a key audience of the Mozilla browser. It is my personal belief that the browser should be branded as “Firefox, Debian Edition” or something to that effect, to let it be known that it’s acknowledged by Mozilla, but it’s got some changes to it. The source is said to be available in “a separate file”, so it would be possible to know what is Mozilla’s source, and what isn’t. This is, all IMHO.
So once again to reiterate, I back the Mozilla Foundations decision to enforce it’s copyright, and product the community from the hazards abuse can bring, and ensure it’s viability as the core foundation of this community. And no, I wasn’t threatened by a family of rabid monkey’s to say this. I am writing this at my own will, and have no obligation to even touch the topic, much less have some open dialog about it.
Dear Mozilla supporter,
We note that you are selling Mozilla-branded merchandise in your web shop/fashion house/bazaar stall (delete as appropriate.) While we are pleased that you want to support Mozilla in this way, the Mozilla Foundation enforces its trademarks and requires permission to sell merchandise that includes our artwork or name.
The Mozilla project uses Mozilla, Firefox, the fox-on-the-globe and other names and logos to brand its products and goods. We like to think that it’s a mark of quality. (That’s not to say that what you’re selling is necessarily poor quality; we make no claims either way.) We’d like to be certain that what’s being sold with our logos on is the good stuff. And (let’s be honest here) it’s only fair that we get a cut, to contribute towards keeping the Foundation going.
So we’d ask you, please, to stop selling Mozilla-branded merchandise and get in touch with email@example.com to discuss how to proceed. We’ll talk business plans, quality guarantees, percentages and so on. We’re really open to coming to a fair arrangement.
The Mozilla store (http://store.mozilla.org) is our chosen vendor for the US, Canada and Mexico. OK, there’s not much stuff there now, but we hope to have more soon. So we’re unlikely to allow general Mozilla merchandise aimed at the general public to be offered by anyone else in those territories.
However, people in other countries, get in touch as outlined above and we’ll see if we can work something out. You want to support us, and we want to be supported – so it shouldn’t be too hard 🙂
P.S. Our lawyers asked us to specify that the Mozilla Foundation reserves the right to take legal action to stop infringements of our trademarks.