Mozilla's Microsoftian legal tactics, or: Why I'm full of hate

The latest build of Phoenix…ahem, excuse me, Firebird™ Browser, has got me all Pissed Off™.

Firebird™ Browser Right there in the titlebar, there’s a blatantly in-your-face trademark symbol after “Firebird”. Given the fact that these people legally have prior claim to the trademark “Firebird” in relation to a software product, and given the recent protests over the rude and illegal hijacking of the Firebird database’s name by the Mozilla team (and parent company AOL), you’d think they’d at least make the sensible decision to trademark the name “Firebird Browser”, which would have been perfectly legal and would have limited the confusion somewhat. But no, they’ve chosen to call “Firebird” their trademark.

Sadly, while this theft of a trademark is illegal according to international trademark law, the Firebird database team can’t do anything about it without lots of highly paid lawyers, which they can’t afford. And by not defending their trademark, they are essentially giving AOL and Mozilla the legal right to use it. This is the first clear-cut case of trademark dispute that I can think of between two open source projects, and it saddens me that the Mozilla team feels no remorse for their actions and even seems to be gleefully insulting the Firebird database project by putting that stupid ™ in the title bar. I can’t think of a single other software product with a trademark symbol in the title bar. Microsoft doesn’t even do that.

So I’m angry. Mozilla, an open source project I’ve often made minor contributions to and which I’ve used and loved for many years, has basically pissed all over another fine open source project that doesn’t have the corporate backing or funding to fight back. This is the sort of thing big evil corporations do to one another, this is not what free, community-driven software projects should do to each other. It’s a real shame.

Update: It looks like the 20030424 nightly build has gotten rid of all those ugly trademark symbols. Now the title bar contains the text “Mozilla Firebird”. That’s much better. I’m less full of hate now.