Wed, April 16, 2003

Phoenix renamed FireBird

Mozillazine has an announcement that the Phoenix browser has been renamed FireBird. This has provoked furious discussion about the legality and morality of stealing the name of the FireBird SQL open source project. Helen Borrie of the FireBird SQL project harshly responded saying "we of the real Firebird Project ARE incensed about this filthiest of dirty tricks, launched without warning by a crowd which has pretensions to being ‘open’ in the broader sense espoused by the OSI. This is not a ‘free and open’ tactic in any sense except that by which felons believe others’ property is ‘free for the taking’ and ‘a glass door is always open’.… The heart of this dispute is not ‘legal comfort’, however. It’s the doing of this dirty deed in the heartland of open source, where we are all supposed to be above such things. If Open Source is to win, we can well do without brother cynically stealing from brother."

Given that the Mozilla browser has added native SQL support, I believe there could be some confusion that would have legal teeth.

I assume the browser formerly known as Phoenix picked up this SQL support from the Mozilla code as well. If it did, then people may well ask: did the FireBird browser use FireBird database technologies to add support? I know the answer is no, but many will not know that or may be confused.

As much as I like the name FireBird (I liked Phoenix even better) I find it appalling that Mozilla would steal a name from another open source project. Yes, I know that it is typical for open source projects start out by accidentally using the name of another. This is usually easy corrected. I expected better from a well established project like Mozilla.