Home > Standards > Mozilla asks Opera to sign agreement before it uses its RSS feed icon

Mozilla asks Opera to sign agreement before it uses its RSS feed icon

June 12, 2006

The Mozilla Foundation asked Opera to sign an agreement on the use of its RSS feed icon in the Opera browser.

Earlier this year, Opera adopted the orange RSS feed icon (pictured on the right) from Mozilla Firefox for use in the Opera browser. This after Microsoft announced that it too would include the icon in the next release of Internet Explorer (IE). There has been an ongoing effort between browser vendors to encourage more consistency between the various browsers.

For now Opera removed the icon in its latest weekly build of the Opera 9 desktop browser, which was released today.

“We fully respect their rights to the icon and will not use it as long as this isn’t sorted out”, said Johan Borg, Opera UI developer and Desktop team manager at Opera Software.

It’s not clear whether Opera and Mozilla will work this issue out in time for the release of Opera 9 later this month (Read: Opera 9 Review).

Update (6/14/06): Fank Hecker, the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, posted the following comment to this post. Since his comment is buried all the way on the bottom (comment #47), I figured I’d quote him here.

Some quick comments on the feed icon issue:

First, I’ve got proposed usage guidelines and a draft FAQ published on my blog. Regarding the trademark licensing arrangements previously proposed, the draft licensing arrangements coupled royalty-free use of the icon with acceptance of certain terms and conditions, mainly involving compliance with usage guidelines. No particular organization was singled out as needing special terms.

We ultimately decided to change the proposed approach, not because any particular vendor complained but rather because of a general concern that doing a formal license was overkill in terms of the end goal of promoting use of the icon. When we decided to change the approach we had some miscommunication in terms of informing all the people we’d previously talked to as to what was going on, hence the confusion you’ve seen (and for which I apologize).

Update (6/15/06): As pointed out in the comments by Kelson, Opera released another preview version of Opera 9 in which they brought back the orange RSS icon. The issue has been mostly resolved, Mozilla is backing off their trademark request.

Yakov Shafranovich is writing an in-depth article on this topic, which will be published in the coming days.

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Categories: Standards
  1. June 12, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Mozilla’s trademark filing here:

    http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=78836825

    Thus trademark has not been approved.

  2. June 12, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    This is just stupid! Whould not this be the kind of things Mozilla would work for!?

  3. Jakub81
    June 12, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    Mozilla is showing its real greedy face.

  4. Jakub81
    June 12, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    But it’s a good news actually, maybe now people will stop to use this horrible icon.

  5. graste
    June 12, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    Simply talk to each other and sort out the ‘problem’. 🙂

  6. June 12, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Jakub81 – who said Mozilla were asking for money?

  7. June 12, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    Anyone who wants to know why Mozilla is doing this should check out Mitchell Baker’s blog entries on this subject.

    http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/mitchell/archives/2006/06/what_do_icons_mean_part_1_1.html

    http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/mitchell/archives/2006/06/what_do_icons_mean_part_2.html

  8. Pjotr
    June 12, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Mozilla gets greedy!

    “The other extreme is a classic trademark licensing program. In this setting the Mozilla Foundation licenses the icon as a trademark to everyone on the same terms and has a formal process for managing the evolution and use of the mark.”

    http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/mitchell/archives/2006/06/what_do_icons_mean_part_2.html

  9. Mike
    June 12, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    While this seems like Mozilla being territorial at first, it is obvious that they are doing this for a legitimate reason. As Doug Wright’s links show, there is legitimate concern that the RSS icon could be applied to uses that have nothing to do with RSS feeds, simply due to its appeal/popularity. If there was a licencing process, there would be a clear detriment to abusing the icon, in the form of legal action. I doubt that the Mozilla Foundation would seriously try to make money off of a tiny icon for the purposes of keeping other browsers down.

  10. June 12, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    Given what Mitchell Baker says in the second post Doug mentioned, I don’t see that anything should interfere with Opera saying “Of course we’re only planning to use it for feeds. What else would we use it for?” Problem solved, 10 minutes, let’s move on.

    Personally I think this whole thing is unnecessary. IMO Feedicons.com was doing fine promoting this informally, and while a set of usage guidelines would be great, going the formal agreement route seems silly. Even so, I don’t see it as a deal-stopper unless Opera wants to go the “Not Invented Here” route.

    And Pjotr: what in that paragraph says “greedy?” I don’t see any suggestion that Mozilla will ask for money, just that in that option — one of three proposed, and not Ms. Baker’s preferred choice, I might add — Mozilla would manage modifications to the design and usage guidelines.

  11. June 12, 2006 at 7:44 pm

    Even so, I don’t see it as a deal-stopper unless Opera wants to go the “Not Invented Here” route.

    Er, I meant to add, “…or Mozilla is making unreasonable demands.”

    But given Mozilla’s history and mission statement, I don’t think that’s likely. Possible, given that we haven’t seen what’s in the agreement, but not in keeping with their goals.

  12. Jakub81
    June 12, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    > Jakub81 – who said Mozilla were asking for money?

    I didn’t said it.

  13. June 12, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Jakub81: So what did you mean by “Mozilla is showing its real greedy face?”

  14. June 12, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    So… when does the Mozilla Foundation expect Microsoft to sign this agreement?

  15. June 12, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    Microsoft might have already signed it.

  16. Stahn
    June 12, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    Stupid Mozilla people for asking things that shouldn’t be needed to ask.

    And stupid Opera people for not resolving this matter earlier.

    Thanks Doug for the links.

  17. el_esponjoso
    June 12, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera on the use of the word “mozilla” in the UA string?
    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera on the use of “netscape (mozilla) api plugins”?
    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera on the use of “tabs”?
    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera on the use of its “shorcuts”?
    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera to “browse the web”?

    Great example of the “open mind” of the guys in the open source world of mozilla

    😀 😀 😀 LOL LOL

  18. DD32
    June 12, 2006 at 10:08 pm

    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera on the use of “tabs”?
    Because opera ‘Pioneered’ them?

    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera on the use of its “shorcuts”?
    Which ones? 😛

    Why doesn´t Mozilla ask an agreement to Opera to “browse the web”?
    Because thats more like something that MS would ask..

    🙂

  19. DD32
    June 12, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    Oh and btw…. I much prefer Operas blue RSS icon.. so much simpler and its obvious what it means… no big orange thing sticking in the way.

    D

  20. June 12, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    It will be actually good if opera stops using that icon. The default one showing RSS will probably be more easy for new users to understand.

  21. treego
    June 13, 2006 at 1:08 am

    Opera’s blue RSS icon is better in my opinion. The generic orange think that is supposed to represent RSS is not what the whole world hinges on in terms of identifying RSS newsfeeds — or at least it shouldn’t be.

    Come to think of it, I could care less what symbol is used. Why does there have to be a universal symbol as such, anyway?

    Perhaps, a universal browser is on the way? Of course, Opera/Firefox users loathe such a notion.

  22. Goh Lu Feng
    June 13, 2006 at 4:00 am

    I second the idea that the blue icon is nicer =)

  23. NoobSaibot
    June 13, 2006 at 4:33 am

    the blue icon say that the format will be rss, where it might even be atom. so there must be an icon for syndication as an entity and not a certain subset of it.

  24. stampede
    June 13, 2006 at 5:13 am

    Hm, Lufthansa uses a sign that looks just like the RSS feed icon for their broadband service on board. The color is different, but I wonder if Mozilla would ask Lufthansa to stop using the icon for Wi-Fi…

  25. Ankur
    June 13, 2006 at 5:26 am

    the blue icon say that the format will be rss, where it might even be atom

    (Hmmmm the blue RSS icon) Click!
    Oh, Darn it!! I this is ATOM instead of RSS. Now I am screwed. With the Orange Mozilla icon I always knew it can be anything. I was ready for a surprise.
    ——
    Once you click on the icon you can chose what type of feed you want. How many people know the difference between RSS and ATOM? They can always use the word feed btw.

  26. June 13, 2006 at 9:45 am

    Btw, Daniel from where did you pickup that Opera v9 will be launched later this month?
    Opera generally releases RC Builds before final release. Will they skip the RC builds this time?

  27. June 13, 2006 at 9:55 am

    Pallab, Opera’s CEO mentioned it in the last shareholders meeting.

  28. June 13, 2006 at 10:31 am

    What the frink!?!

    Now, after feedicons.com has promoted the icon as universal, and sites all over have started using it or variants (for example, LiveJournal), now they’re trying to crack the whip and control access?

    Heck, this move of theirs messes me up professionally, because I’ve been a huge advocate for standardizing on this icon in our UI, and now I have to either back out or make upper management sign some kind of licensing agreement?

    Smooth move, Mozilla!
    Way to lose friends and influence people.

  29. Michael Johnson
    June 13, 2006 at 10:41 am

    To be honest, I haven’t seen the new feed icon yet, since everytime I get a new version of Opera I immediately install my favorite skin. Which uses an angled blue RSS.

    I do agree that the new-fangled icon is hard to figure out. Changing the RSS in the blue icon to FEED would work well, I think.

  30. mihau
    June 13, 2006 at 11:17 am

    the funny thing about all that is: the icon is stolen by mozilla from the closed source commercial software DVB Viewer used in combination with digital satellite cards

    http://www.dvbviewer.com/

  31. kL
    June 13, 2006 at 11:28 am

    WTF? Are their ideals of freedom and openness limited only to sourcecode?

  32. Ankur
    June 13, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    I guess things are being blown out of proportions here.

    Is it unfair for them to enforce a certain usage guidelines about the icon (even though the icon is horrible)? I think they only want to make sure that the icon is used exclusively for feeds. I am sure they do not want to stop Opera ASA from using the icon (though I wish they did).

  33. June 13, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Wow… there are enough knees jerking here to do the Can-Can. Here’s something to consider:

    We don’t know what Mozilla wanted Opera to agree to.

    All we know is what Mitchell Baker suggested last week in the two posts linked in Doug’s comment. Based on those, it sounds like Mozilla wants to ensure that people use the icon consistently. They may have asked for more, but so far there’s no indication that they did.

    So now I have to ask, of those of you who are already condemning Mozilla without the full story: why are you so quick to assume the worst?

    On the other side of things, here’s why I’m willing to assume a benign explanation until shown otherwise: Having watched what is now Firefox develop from Netscape 1.1 and the Mozilla Suite, I’ve seen them make missteps, but I don’t recall ever seeing them make the kind of greedy power grab that some people seem to be attributing to them here.

  34. June 13, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    why are you so quick to assume the worst?
    Because if it was easy, Opera wouldn’t say their use of the icon in Opera 9 was in doubt.

    And again, any developer or designer who incorporated the feed icon into their own sites or apps is now on guard to find out what price they’re asking.

  35. June 13, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Mozilla isn’t asking for MONEY. It’s only an AGREEMENT.

    So why the Anti-Mozillaism here

  36. June 13, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    If Mozilla wants standarization of this ugly icon then Why Mozilla didn´t propose firstly it to w3c, ecma?
    or maybe Mozilla would want to have control about some standard?
    I think if Opera wants to use this icon, doesn´t have to sign any agreement with Mozilla for using it for feeds because yet the trademark of this icon has not approved (see the first comment of this article http://operawatch.com/news/2006/06/mozilla-asks-opera-to-sign-agreement-before-it-uses-its-rss-feed-icon.html#comment-4199)
    And this type of attitude from Mozilla only will get more criticism for themselves.
    One question:
    If Opera with IBM had patented the css voice (and nor proposed for standarization as it is now) then all had criticized hardly to Opera by this action BUT IF MOZILLA ASKS AN AGREEMENT FOR USING AN ICON THAT YET HAS NOT TRADEMARKED THEN ALL MUST SHUT UP AND BE HAPPY?

  37. June 13, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    Daniel a small question.
    I noticed even over at Blogspot you used Feedreader and not the in built one provided by Blogger (in form of XML).

    What are the advantages of RSS over Atom ?

    I want to know as I’m quickly getting ready for launching my blog (with a new template ofcourse).

    So I just want to get everything right the first time.

  38. June 13, 2006 at 9:05 pm

    Sohil, I use FeedBurner so that I can keep track of the number of RSS subscribers. Blogger didn’t provide any stats on the number of feed subscribers you have.

    I would go with RSS over atom, as there is more support for RSS. Atom, tough, is a standard (I believe).

  39. June 14, 2006 at 2:30 am

    Quick follow-up on Atom vs. RSS and standards. The main difference is that RSS sort of grew into a spec usable for blog feeds, while Atom was designed with blogs in mind from the beginning. So there are about a dozen variations of RSS, and just two of Atom. Atom 1.0 was accepted as an IETF standard last December.

    The variations on RSS are mostly irrelevant; RSS 2.0 will do for most blogging purposes, since it’ll handle anything you throw at it and just about every reader out there will be able to parse it.

    Atom is a bit tricky right now, since a lot of generators and readers are still being upgraded to handle the 1.0 spec, so the “right” choice (from a standards perspective) is to use Atom 1.0, but the practical choice is still Atom 0.3 or RSS 2.0. (This may not be an option on Blogspot, which IIRC still only generates Atom 0.3.)

  40. Meh
    June 14, 2006 at 4:04 am

    Ok, here’s the thing, as put in Lis Riba’s blog:

    And so nice of them to raise the issue within one month of Opera 9’s ship date… over four months after Opera first expressed interest in using the icon!

    Doesn’t make Mozilla look to good, now does it?

    Knee-jerk reaction? Maybe. But why does Mozilla bring it up now, months after things started happening? Why just before Opera is about to release a new version using the icon?

  41. June 14, 2006 at 8:25 am

    The executive director of Mozilla Foundation, Frank Hecker, has posted more on this in his blog:

    http://www.hecker.org/mozilla/feed-icon-as-community-mark

  42. June 14, 2006 at 9:26 am

    Thanks Daniel, I’ll go with RSS then.
    I’ve noticed a small issue with RSS and Opera. When I go to a page that has RSS in it like your own page
    http://feeds.feedburner.com/OperaWatch

    Opera seems to display the code while Firefox seems to display the page itself. IE7 bypasses all these and takes to it’s own built in Feed Reader (I think Firefox will follow this behaviour in 2.0). Does Opera display the code by default, or have is there a setting to change.

  43. June 14, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Sohil, that page is only displayed to browsers, not to feed readers.

    P.S. If you have further questions about it, feel free to email me. Let’s keep these comments related to the post subject :).

  44. June 14, 2006 at 9:48 am

    Sorry, I’ll email you if any further questions arise.

  45. gandalf
    June 14, 2006 at 11:28 am
  46. June 14, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    I’ve been jumping around on this topic, so I’ve lost track of where I found the link (I’ve got about 15 tabs open in 2 browsers right now), but Mozilla’s Frank Hecker has posted another update. Funny how things get less sinister as we get more information.

    I still want to know what Opera was asked to agree to that made them balk, though—assuming, of course, that it got to the point of actual terms, and wasn’t just Mozilla saying, “Hey, we’ll want to work out a usage agreement on that icon at some point.”

  47. June 14, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Some quick comments on the feed icon issue:

    First, I’ve got proposed usage guidelines and a draft FAQ published on my blog.

    Regarding the trademark licensing arrangements previously proposed, the draft licensing arrangements coupled royalty-free use of the icon with acceptance of certain terms and conditions, mainly involving compliance with usage guidelines. No particular organization was singled out as needing special terms.

    We ultimately decided to change the proposed approach, not because any particular vendor complained but rather because of a general concern that doing a formal license was overkill in terms of the end goal of promoting use of the icon. When we decided to change the approach we had some miscommunication in terms of informing all the people we’d previously talked to as to what was going on, hence the confusion you’ve seen (and for which I apologize).

  48. Meh
    June 15, 2006 at 3:36 am

    Kelson…

    “Funny how things get less sinister as we get more information.”

    They might get “less sinister” if you haven’t followed Mozilla’s previous adventures, but the fact is that Mozilla is behaving more and more like an abusive monopolist, even though it isn’t even close to having a monopoly anywhere. However, it has hordes of fans that never question it and think of Mozilla as infallible.

    “I still want to know what Opera was asked to agree to that made them balk”

    What do you mean “made them balk”? This is what Opera said:

    “We fully respect their rights to the icon and will not use it as long as this isn’t sorted out.”

    Where does the “balking” happen?

    Face it, Mozilla took someone else’s work and started making demands, apparently only to a few select entities. It might have been a mistake, but Mozilla people like the Asa troll have rallied his troops against Opera for lesser mistakes than this one. Mozilla needs to get its shit together before it starts threatening others, especially its competitors.

  49. June 15, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    To respond to Meh,

    Mozilla is behaving more and more like an abusive monopolist

    Examples, please? I’d like to hear about how Mozilla has tried to lock other browsers out of the market. And I mean the Mozilla Foundation, Corporation, or mainstream community, not the lunatic fringe among its fans. You wouldn’t want people to judge Opera by its zealots, would you?

    What do you mean “made them balk”?

    I meant whatever made them decide to stop using the icon, which thanks to Frank, we now know was a misunderstanding.

    Mozilla people like the Asa troll have rallied his troops against Opera for lesser mistakes than this one.

    No, Mozilla people like Asa have at times been critical of Opera (sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly), at which point Opera fans have taken offense, Mozilla fans have gone on the defense, things have escalated and turned nasty on both sides and exploded into massive flame wars. Why? Because people have made up their mind that the “other browser” is the enemy, and therefore not to be trusted. (Something to keep in mind: if you perceive an attack, and retaliate in full force, people will fight back whether the first “attack” was intentional or not.)

    Sorry to contradict your worldview, but Mozilla is not the evil entity you seem to think it is. They’re fighting for an open web just like you are, and there is room for both browsers in a truly, but civilly competitive market.

  50. June 15, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Now Asa is a good boy, ???????
    His criticisms are more unfairly than fairly based in half-trusts, flame comments and bad pranks; his “criticisms” are really attacks to Opera and his posts prove this (http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives.html):

    opera gets “tabs”: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2006/05/opera_gets_tabs.html
    making the switch (bad prank): http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2006/04/making_the_swit.html
    opera falls into line: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2006/02/opera_falls_int.html
    100 million downloads?: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2006/01/100_million_dow.html
    opera followup: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/09/opera_followup.html
    opera continues to follow firefox’s lead: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/09/opera_continues.html
    opera reverses course on ua spoofing: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/08/opera_reverses.html
    what does it mean: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/06/what_does_it_me.html
    opera and firefox: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/06/my_browser_atti.html
    opera lies about being named pc world best browser: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/06/opera_lies_abou.html
    congratulations to opera: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/05/congratulations_5.html
    you know you love it: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/05/you_know_you_lo_1.html
    on bloat and opera: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2005/04/on_bloat.html

    If mozilla wants websites and vendors adopts its ugly orange icon then why complicate all this with trademark issues? Was not enough only publish and promote the guidelines of the use of this icon?
    If the trademark yet has not been approved then why ask an agreement before its consent as Mozilla’s trademark,????

  51. June 15, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    Please let’s keep the Opera-Firefox flaming down! It serves no purpose 🙂

  52. M
    June 15, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    … because we all know that Opera is better than Firefox 😉

    Seriously, don’t take Asa seriously. He craves for attention, and that’s what you give him.

    Just remember where things would be without Opera, Firefox, Safari and Konqueror – in a land of IE.

  53. June 15, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    FWIW, the icon is back in the latest “weekly” build. (Incidentally, it looks the comment preview is getting confused by links to URLs ending in numbers.)

  54. Remmers
    June 16, 2006 at 10:40 am

    I meant whatever made them decide to stop using the icon, which thanks to Frank, we now know was a misunderstanding.

    Yeah, the “misunderstanding was” that someone at Mozilla decided to muscle around a bit 😀

    As for Mozilla’s behavior, they deserve to be criticized for this mess.

    And finally, Asa is just a troll. Everyone should ignore him. Why hasn’t he been fired yet? He does more harm than good.

  55. June 16, 2006 at 10:46 am

    Asa has nothing to do with this, AFAIK.

  56. ipostanodat
    June 17, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    I say this as someone who has long admired Mozilla and Mozilla products, but the thing I find disturbing is how much Mozilla is sounding and acting more and more like a mini-Microsoft, complete with “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature” declarations and focusing so heavily on increasing market share at the expense of other things. I’m in the process of building a new computer on which I’ll install Ubuntu, and though my understanding is that Fx/Thunderbird come bundled with the system, I won’t be using either.

    Personally, I prefer the old blue RSS symbol.

  57. August 27, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    soma [URL=http://kimberlylee.blog.espresso.repubblica.it/] soma [/URL]

  1. June 12, 2006 at 7:09 pm
  2. June 13, 2006 at 3:43 am
  3. June 13, 2006 at 1:11 pm
  4. June 14, 2006 at 6:30 am
  5. June 14, 2006 at 8:12 am
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