Reverting to the old feed icon for now due to licensing issues

As mentioned in the announcement for the latest weekly (and hotly debated over at OperaWatch), we've gone back to the old feed icon rather than the new one from Mozilla. As you can see from the announcement, it looks like Mozilla requires anyone who wants to use the icon to sign an agreement.

While it seems strange that they decide to bring it up several months after the icon was accepted as the "standard feed icon", I think we should wait and see before drawing any conclusions. It looks like not even the Mozilla Corporation agrees internally on what is really going on, especially with the trademark application for the icon. Apparently, clarifications are on the way.

That said, they are going to have to send out a lot of forms to people and sites all over the world if this is they way they choose to go. And while I can understand the desire to prevent people from using the icon for unrelated things (to avoid confusion), I really don't think this would turn out to be a big problem. If all major browsers (and sites) use the same icon for newsfeeds, people will automatically think of newsfeeds when they see the icon, so anyone trying to use it for something else will probably have very limited success.

Standards should be kept open, and this is what Opera has always strived for. When we introduced the security information widget in the URL field, we talked to the other browser vendors so that we could agree on a standard way to show security information to the user. We never expected them to sign any agreements because we introduced them to the concept.

Now we should wait for Mozilla to clarify its position. People are pulling the icon from their sites and products, which might be a good idea while waiting for things to settle down. But let's allow Mozilla to make up its mind internally, and then explain where they are coming from. I am sure that everyone will manage to come to an agreement in the end.

Update: Things were sorted out, and the icon is back in Opera.


6 thoughts on “Reverting to the old feed icon for now due to licensing issues

  1. Isn't the icon available as LGPL/GPL? Doesn't that give anyone the right to use it despite anything?

  2. It's been said a million times- but I'd like it (ideally) to be a localized "FEED" or "Subscribe" indicator.

  3. Another update from Mozilla: and Mitchell's latest posts indicate that the trademark application was something they implemented when they were considering various options, and that they've since settled on another approach. Ms. Baker has even proposed abandoning the trademark application.Keep in mind two things:1. An application for a trademark is not the same thing as a trademark — it's just an application, and it may or may not be granted.2. Trademarks and copyrights are different issues. GPL/MPL/etc. are copyright licenses.A good example would be Red Hat Linux clones. 99% or more of the software in Red Hat Enterprise Linux is available under various open-source licenses that allow anyone to distribute it. But the Red Hat name and logo are trademarked. So while it's legal to release a Linux distribution virtually identical to RHEL, you can't call it "Red Hat." You need to use your own name and logo. CentOS is an example of a distribution that does just that.Edit:[/url] Thinking about it, I think I see what you mean. If the artist did not sign over ownership to Mozilla, then the image is probably still owned by the artist and used by Mozilla under the terms of the GPL/LGPL/MPL licenses (and from there, used by anyone else under those same terms). In that case, I'm not sure who would have the legal right to trademark the icon. That would be something for an intellectual property lawyer or the US Patent and Trademark Office to decide, but if Mozilla drops the application as Mitchell suggests, it's a moot point anyway.

Comments are closed.