There are lots of ongoing discussions in the Ubuntu Forums about the fact that Mozilla has asked Debian to either comply with the trademarks/copyrights and use both the Firefox logo and name, and let all their patches run through Mozilla, or to neither use the logo nor the name. A typical forum post, written by Bnonn, quoted here:
This seems entirely insensible to me. Mozilla is basically stating that they would rather Debian (and, by derivation, Ubuntu) pretend that Firefox isn’t Firefox, than use Firefox with a different logo.
Now, personally I hate the damn blue globe and wish that Debian/Ubuntu could use the proper Firefox icon. It confounds me that Mozilla would make the icon non-free, thereby limiting its brand recognition and achieving absolutely nothing (what are they afraid of for crying out loud?) But surely even the blue globe with the name “Firefox” underneath it is better than a blue globe (or something better) with the name IceWeasel, or Freefox? It sounds like Mozilla is cutting off its nose to spite its face—which is particularly dumb given that, firstly, the “fix” is just a farce; secondly, it’s a non-issue anyway! And thirdly, the Debian and Ubuntu communities are big, idealistic, and outspoken, and will surely react with ill-will. I can’t see how that won’t harm Mozilla far more than any perceived benefit they’ll get.
Perhaps it’s simply that, in order to keep their trademark, they have to get Debian to comply (by law, if they don’t, they lose the trademark). But it seems like they should really consider adjusting their copyright requirements. All they’d have to do to resolve this whole issue is open-source an icon!
The truth is, however, that Mozilla Corporation’s aggressive defending of their copyright is sensible. There is (at least) one strong reason why Mozilla must defend their copyrighted name and logo, and that is quality assurance. If anyone were allowed to make their own highly modified version of the browser and for example bundle it with spyware, and on top of that still call it Firefox with the recognized fox-around-globe logo, then people would no longer associate Firefox with high quality. People would eventually associate Firefox with spyware and viruses, which is the opposite of the reputation Mozilla is trying to build. The only way to maintain Mozilla’s strong quality and security reputation is to make sure anything named Firefox really is Firefox.
Of course, one could argue that anything that leaves Debian is probably going to retain the quality of the original authors (Mozilla contributors), and Mozilla Corporation could probably legally make an exception to allow Debian to use the name Firefox even though they don’t use the copyrighted logo which Debian will never use. I am, however, not a lawyer, so I don’t know the effect on the copy/trademark rights if such an exception was made.
Update: As Dennis Kaarsemaker says in the first comment of this blog post, Debian’s DFSG makes a legal exception from Mozilla worthless. In other words, Debian has to a large part itself to blame for this dilemma.