More on the Phoenix renaming

Some people have suggested that Mozilla’s SQL support is unlikely to confuse anyone. I would say the same but that doesn’t change the fact that courts often try to prevent potential confusion. Two companies can, and frequently do, share the same trademark if they are competing with different products or are in different markets. I think that Mozilla SQL support might cause confusion with the FireBird SQL database, as I mentioned earlier. The Pilot pen vs. PalmPilot case makes me think the FireBird database people might have grounds for a legal battle. In that case, the makers of the Pilot pen made the claim that because you used a writing stylus to use the PalmPilot device, there was potential market confusion, despite the fact that the PalmPilot was a totally different market and that the stylus did not resemble a Pilot pen. This is why Pilot is no longer a part of the name of the company or products produced by Palm.

I hope that Boris Zbarsky is correct in his understanding of how Mozilla plans to use the FireBird name. If Mozilla uses it simply as an internal component name like “Necko” this is all overstated. However, given that the browser formerly known as Phoenix will be distributed as a standalone product, I doubt he’s right.

I’m sure it is quite expensive to pay for lawyers and trademark searches, but I believe the right thing for Mozilla to do is to pick a new name and forget about using FireBird. Potential legal issues aside—who knows, the lawyers may have already said there’s no concern with this—it just doesn’t feel good to trample on another open source project’s name.