X-Firefox license issue

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webfork
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X-Firefox license issue

#1 Post by webfork » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:41 am

Edit: the issues detailed in this thread have come up multiple times in multiple forms. As a result I put together a FAQ thread to try and consolidate them.

=======

Currently our entry for Firefox contains the following disclaimer about X-Firefox:
An alternative is X-Firefox, though it appears to be done without a license from Mozilla.
However, Softpedia explains this with the following:
X-Firefox is a portable version of Mozilla Firefox (registered trademark of the Mozilla Foundation) created by winPenPack.com using the unchanged official binary downloaded from Mozilla.org, in agreement with the "Mozilla Trademark Policy". X-Firefox contains Mozilla Firefox in its unmodified setup form into the \Lib\Mozilla\Firefox\setup_en\ directory.
If accurate, WinPenPack doesn't need a license from Mozilla. I can't find confirmation from the Mozilla organization about this as the software is mentioned nowhere on the mozilla site.

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#2 Post by m^(2) » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:08 am

Mozilla trademark policy starts with:
Any use that does not comply with our trademark policy or does not have written authorization from us is not authorized.

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#3 Post by JohnTHaller » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:16 pm

The full trademark policy is available here: http://www.mozilla.org/foundation/trade ... olicy.html

I can guarantee you that Mozilla would never approve a name like "X-Firefox". And as Firefox is a registered trademark of Mozilla, use of the name in that fashion or anything similar would require written authorization.
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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#4 Post by webfork » Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:59 pm

m^(2) wrote:Mozilla trademark policy starts with:
Any use that does not comply with our trademark policy or does not have written authorization from us is not authorized.
JohnTHaller wrote:The full trademark policy is available here: http://www.mozilla.org/foundation/trade ... olicy.html

I can guarantee you that Mozilla would never approve a name like "X-Firefox". And as Firefox is a registered trademark of Mozilla, use of the name in that fashion or anything similar would require written authorization.
Understood. Its not about redistribution then, its about branding.

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#5 Post by JohnTHaller » Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:15 pm

webfork wrote:Understood. Its not about redistribution then, its about branding.
I'd say it's about both, really. You're only allowed to redistribute the Firefox installer when you follow their distribution guidelines. I don't think anywhere in there they say it's ok to repackage the installer inside another installer or zip file. So, the redistribution itself would appear to be an issue as well.

That's in addition to the "X-Firefox" moniker which I'm quite sure is a trademark violation.
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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#6 Post by stoned » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:24 am

Hi Mr. Haller, one info please.
Where can I find Your "distribution Permission" by Mozilla regarding your Firefox portable ?
I'm not able to find these infos on your site.

Many thanks in advance.

a second question: who is the contact in Mozilla foundation where You aslek for this permission ?

Regards,
Stoned (a fan of Portable Software)

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#7 Post by stoned » Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:48 am

JohnTHaller wrote:The full trademark policy is available here: http://www.mozilla.org/foundation/trade ... olicy.html

I can guarantee you that Mozilla would never approve a name like "X-Firefox". And as Firefox is a registered trademark of Mozilla, use of the name in that fashion or anything similar would require written authorization.
and why Mozilla approves a name like "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition" as your portable version?
where is the trick?

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#8 Post by webfork » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:01 am

stoned wrote:and why Mozilla approves a name like "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition" as your portable version? where is the trick?
Its unlikely The Mozilla Corporation will give authorization to anyone who isn't:

(1) A business partner
(2) A leader in open source
(3) Someone with substantial reputation / coding skill

Likely the only reason they haven't moved against X-Firefox is that its a very small project and because you don't build community by suing people.

When I asked around two years ago, I got NO response from Mozilla legal, but you're welcome to try.

Alternately, you might find a way to use the IceCat project code, which is fully GPL'd and doesn't have the same restrictions.

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#9 Post by JohnTHaller » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:06 am

stoned wrote:and why Mozilla approves a name like "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition" as your portable version?
where is the trick?
We've been working with Mozilla Firefox for USB drives since 2004 (Firefox 0.8+). We worked directly with them on the naming and the branding as well as the exact changes needed to make it portable. We entered into a licensing agreement to use the name. We do broad public testing of changes. We use entirely open source tools to do the portable launcher for it as well as our portable installer. Our format is an open standard that's entirely based on open source tools. We're the only portable software project that can say all of that. And we have a larger worldwide userbase than all other portable software platforms combined.

The short answer is that we did it right, we did it legally, and we asked permission from very early on.
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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#10 Post by stoned » Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:02 am

JohnTHaller wrote:
stoned wrote:and why Mozilla approves a name like "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition" as your portable version?
where is the trick?
..cutted post..
The short answer is that we did it right, we did it legally, and we asked permission from very early on.
Precise and complete! OK, every thing's clear now. Thanks for time spent to answer me :)

Anyway I still don't understand why you are so critical against winpenpack project and not with other similar projects (LibrerKey, LupoPensuite, Pendriveapps, Codyssey etc.)
IMHO: looking how they work, winpenpack team seems to be as right as possible with legality of their distributions. Much more than some "competitors". I don't want to blame anyone, but... :wink:

Btw, I want let You know I use every day some of your portable programs and I'm satisfied by their quality. But, I'm Italian and I use very often also some winpenpack packages because some programs are better localized there (quite normal eh! :lol: ) and, let me say, some of them work better in "roaming" conditions. As you can understand I'm proud to be Italian :D

Cheers, ans see U soon

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#11 Post by webfork » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:43 am

stoned wrote:Anyway I still don't understand why you are so critical against winpenpack project and not with other similar projects (LibrerKey, LupoPensuite, Pendriveapps, Codyssey etc.) ... looking how they work, winpenpack team seems to be as right as possible with legality of their distributions. Much more than some "competitors".
It would be good to have someone advocating WinPenPack on the forums as we never seem to hear from any of their developers. However, this has been discussed at length elsewhere in the forums. LiberKey and LupoPensuite have been discussed and, at different times, railed on. If you have an argument why WinPenPack's differs from the status suggested earlier in this thread, I'd be interested to hear it, but at this point they do not look like they are as "right as possible with legality". Quite the opposite.

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#12 Post by Danix » Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:19 am

Hello everyone!
I'm Danilo Leggieri (Danix), the winPenPack project founder.

Our project is based upon the maximum observance of both the licenses and the authors will. Is enough to read our license, the procedures for requiring the portabilizations and all the directives that we always yield to our users (i.e. the "Programs that CAN'T be made portable" section). We produced, in the past, some portatilizations that have been refused by the authors of the portabilized programs. Although these programs were regulated by the GPL, we anyway respected the authors will (example here).

About Firefox, we sent many requests to Mozilla Foundation for authorize us to use their trademarks, but we never received answers. We then decided to create a script that, performing an automatic installation in the program folder, allowed us to distribute the unmodified setup, so following the Trademark Policy. All the details of this implementation can be found in the X-Firefox Info section of our site. We have also asked an opinion to Mozilla Italia about our distribution method, and they did not found any violation of Mozilla's Trademarks Policy. When and if the Mozilla Foundation will express an adverse opinion for our portatilization and/or its implementation, we will stop to distribute all Mozilla software, respectfully of their will, as we always pursued, substituting them with equivalent (but surely less effective or diffused) programs. But we would be very disappointed if, after all the hard work for supporting our project - performed, we want to point out, absolutely for free, standing also the administration charges - someone could lobby Mozilla or Oracle so that the "much coveted" authorizations will not be accorded to us. Our requests do not want to persuade Mozilla and Oracle to choose X-Firefox or X-OpenOffice.org as their official portable versions, but want just state that these X-Programs are legal portable versions of open source programs, as all the programs hosted by winPenPack.com.

About X-OpenOffice.org, also the italian project PLIO expressed a positive opinion. Here can find all the details. Also in this case, if Oracle will adverse us, we will stop to distribute and support also X-OpenOffice.org. But sincerely we do not see any valid reason to consider our version illegal, because our work is performed conscientiously under any point of view, and using exclusively unmodified binaries downloaded from their original sites. We do not support this project for get rich, but just for the simple pleasure to do it for our community, stealing a precious part to our free time. Then, although PortableApps is an excellent project, we believe that is possible to think that other projects can have or reach the same target and quality, and that all together can coexist.

By the way, talking about open source, all our source code is available in SourceForge repository for any review, so we had never (and cannot) be accused to steal others work, closing the source and distributing as it would be produced by us (as other project have been, also in this site).

In short, if there is still something to adjust, we are absolutely open to find all the needed solutions, as always. But we cannot accept any criticism that we are not working in a sphere of legality, because "the legality anyhow" has been always the first assumption of all our work.

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#13 Post by webfork » Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:30 pm

Danix wrote:Our requests do not want to persuade Mozilla and Oracle to choose X-Firefox or X-OpenOffice.org as their official portable versions, but want just state that these X-Programs are legal portable versions of open source programs, as all the programs hosted by winPenPack.com.
Just because someone has yet to take legal action against another organization doesn't mean that an act is legal. Very likely they are not interested in taking legal action until they feel like there's a genuine necessity: its expensive, bad for building a software community, and essentially giving advertising to an organization possibly outside of US trademark law.

However, in terms of the little I know about Trademark law (note that IANAL), if Firefox took over as the #1 browser in the world, I find it unlikely that they would allow a product like "X-Firefox" on the market. Mozilla is likely to require a more drastic name-change like IceCat. The question is about confusion:
The likelihood of confusion test is also one of several examinations conducted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in determining whether to approve an applicant’s trademark application. It is worth noting here that even if there is no likelihood of confusion, i.e. no trademark infringement, you may still be liable for using another company's trademark if you are blurring or tarnishing their mark under the state and/or federal dilution laws. (source)
I hope this doesn't prevent you from the work you've been doing: we love portable software and hope you keep it up. I merely suggest that at some point in the future, it seems likely you will be required to change the name.

Oracle meanwhile appears to be aggressively protecting their intellectual property, in my opinion to their detriment. They are more likely to move against X-OpenOffice than Mozilla is against X-Firefox.
Last edited by webfork on Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:47 am, edited 4 times in total.
Reason: (clarity)

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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#14 Post by JohnTHaller » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:59 am

To erase any confusion, Danilo, I never claimed you were altering code and then not publishing changes nor taking software and passing it off as your own. I said that you were distributing GPLed binaries (OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice, ClamWin, Notepad++, etc) and not also distributed the source code for said binaries. I've mentioned this to you before on this forum. And SourceForge staff has reminded you of your requirement to distribute the sources. Basically, if you distribute a binary, you have to also distribute the corresponding source code for a period of at least 3 years from when you last distribute the binary. Linking to the publisher's own download of the source is not sufficient, you have to host it yourself.

As for OpenOffice.org, I confirmed with one of the heads of OpenOffice.org last year that only Oracle can approve trademark use as of the merger, meaning that Oracle legal (specifically the trademarks folks) has to approve it. OpenOffice.org's own community leads can not grant the rights, let alone of the country-specific community leads.

On Firefox, a similar situation is present. You need a license from Mozilla to use the Firefox name in modified form or to use with any software other than the official Mozilla Firefox releases. The trademark policy is very clear on this.
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Re: X-Firefox license issue

#15 Post by webfork » Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:42 am

JohnTHaller wrote:I confirmed with one of the heads of OpenOffice.org last year that only Oracle can approve trademark use as of the merger, meaning that Oracle legal (specifically the trademarks folks) has to approve it. OpenOffice.org's own community leads can not grant the rights, let alone of the country-specific community leads.
Another demonstration of Trademark law in action is on The Document Foundation (the group behind LibreOffice) web site FAQ:
Q: And why are you calling the software “LibreOffice” instead of “OpenOffice.org”?

A: The OpenOffice.org trademark is owned by Oracle Corporation. Our hope is that Oracle will donate this to the Foundation, along with the other assets it holds in trust for the Community, in due course, once legal etc issues are resolved. However, we need to continue work in the meantime – hence “LibreOffice” (“free office”).
Source: http://www.documentfoundation.org/faq/

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