Web feed icon trademark, licensing and usage guidelines

Web feed icon copyright Stephen HorlanderI am encouraged to read Mitchell Baker’s posts (part 1, part 2) about the usage of Stephen Horlander’s web feed icon which is seen in Firefox, IE7 and on an increasing number of web pages. She suggests that Mozilla should work with the web community to set usage guidelines for the icon. This is a great idea. Guidelines are necessary to avoid confusing web users about the meaning of the image.

It’s puzzling that Mozilla has already applied for a trademark on the web feed icon: http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=78836825. In light of Mitchell’s recomendation against the formal trademark option, does this mean that the Mozilla’s application will be withdrawn?

There’s also the question of the icon image license. Mitchell’s post implies that the feed icon is not subject to an open source license like the rest of the Firefox code. This is news to me. When Stephen Horlander and I checked in our images for Firefox and Thunderbird, we were told that they are covered by the Mozilla tri-license. In fact part of the move to replace the Qute theme before Firefox 1.0 was driven by the desire to have artwork that is free of proprietary licensing. I hope Mozilla will clear this up soon.

We should move quickly to come up with an icon kit that web sites can use and a clear set of usage guidelines. There has already been some good starts by Khoi Vinh, Matt Brett and others. I look forward to the discussion.

Update: Mitchell Baker posts details about the Mozilla Foundation’s trademark application.

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