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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox 306

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-button-surcharge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Dell is charging customers £16.25 ($27.18) to install Firefox on a newly purchased computer. We contacted Mozilla to find out more. The company told us it is investigating the issue and denied it has any such a deal in place. 'There is no agreement between Dell and Mozilla which allows Dell or anyone else to charge for installing Firefox using that brand name,' Mozilla's Vice President and General Counsel Denelle Dixon-Thayer told TNW. 'Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report.' Dell has responded by saying that this practice is okay because the company is charging for the service and not the product."
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Mozilla Is Investigating Why Dell Is Charging To Install Firefox

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:39PM (#46415041)

    Dell is distributing Firefox (by way of pre-installed-ness), and they tied this distributing to a paid service.
    This is pretty much exactly the thing Mozilla's trademark policy forbids.

    If someone asks you to install it, that is allowed, because you aren't distributing Firefox by doing so.

  • Say what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by harryjohnston (1118069) <harry.maurice.johnston@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:05PM (#46415249) Homepage
    Pardon? Dell is installing Firefox on a customer's machine before shipping it to them. How is that any different from my installing it on a customer's machine *after* it's shipped to them? What if the customer ships their machine to me, I install Firefox, and then ship it back?
  • How long before... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:05PM (#46415251)
    ... Dell refuses warranty service if the computer has software installed that Dell did not install?

    .
    Dell is desperate for revenue at this point, and when companies are desperate for revenue they do customer-antagonistic things.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:08PM (#46415271)

    Someone is willing to pay me 16$ to install firefox, why would the firefox terms and conditions apply to me? I'm not selling their product.

    If you're advertising yourself as a Firefox installer then you're using Mozilla.org's trademark to do so.

    Consider how Red Hat works, Red Hat doesn't sell Linux, they sell services surrounding their own version of Linux, RHEL. If someone else tries to distribute RHEL they get in trouble with Red Hat so you get things like CentOS that remove the trademarks.

    Personally I think Mozilla has a case here. The price is fairly high and if I saw this I'd assume that Dell had some kind of deal with Mozilla and that Mozilla was comfortable fleecing consumers which damages Mozilla's brand. There's also the case that the high price Dell is signalling that Firefox costs money and installing it is a non-trivial task, again both things that damage Mozilla's brand.

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @09:54PM (#46415539)

    I just checked how much Microsoft Office Home and Business costs when put on a Dell computer - 179 USD, right there on the Dell site, for a desktop computer. It costs 219 USD at Big Box Mart and Microsoft itself [microsoft.com]

    So uh... yeah. They're charging for free software. It's just taking advantage of the ignorant. Who might be your grandma. Or a firefighter. Or a grocery store cashier.

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:02PM (#46415575) Homepage

    You are free to charge $16 for it. But you may not use the firefox trademark in your ads/product page etc.

    Does trademark law actually allow a trademark holder to do that?

    If you weren't installing genuine Mozilla Firefox I could see how it would be illegal to use their trademark.

    However, if I buy a can of Coke at Walmart, assuming I have the appropriate local government licenses I can put a sign up on my front lawn saying "Coca Cola" for sale. If I mix up my own soda, then I can't use their trademark to sell it.

    That's why T-Mobile can say "We're better than AT&T" or whatever on their ads. They don't need permission to use AT&T's name, they just can't use their name to refer to anything but the real AT&T.

    Mozilla may very well say that you're not allowed to use their name on advertising, but that doesn't mean that it is enforceable.

    The reason Debian drops the name is because they patch it, which means it is no longer the genuine article (security flaws and all).

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:30PM (#46415733) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure it's legal in both countries. The only question here is supposedly whether Dell is violating the Firefox trademark. Dell argues they're not because they're charging for installation. I don't know if that m

    But minus the trademark issue, Dell certainly can charge for copies of Firefox, even if it ends up having to install Iceweasel instead. So can I. It's Free Software/Open Source, shipped under a Free Software/Open Source license, and as long as Dell complies with, for example, any copyleft provisions, it can do whatever it wants and charge whatever it wants. There's a myth that you can't charge for Free Software/Open Source software. That's never been true. Indeed, that's one of the ways the FSF originally funded itself, selling tapes containing copies of GNU.

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