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Mozilla The Internet Your Rights Online

Godzilla Getting Ready to Stomp Mozilla? 759

mrBlond writes: "Doing the rounds: Seems like Toho [jp], 'the owner of all rights in and to the trademark and service mark GODZILLA [jp] and the GODZILLA characters,' is coming down on Davezilla for use of 'zilla' in his domain name and his dragon logo, to set a precedent before attacking Mozilla."
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Godzilla Getting Ready to Stomp Mozilla?

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  • so what? (Score:4, Funny)

    by endoboy ( 560088 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:48PM (#4063369)
    mothra will protect us
  • by iamwoodyjones ( 562550 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:49PM (#4063374) Journal
    Wow, everyone is right. Slashdot is starting to become a comment board for the register.
  • While I love mozilla and the logo is kick-ass...

    It's hard to argue with this.. it does seem to be pretty blatant... hopefully they can come to an agreement...
    • Re:Hard to argue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gengee ( 124713 ) <gengis@hawaii.rr.com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:04PM (#4063554)
      Excuse me? It's a clear case of fair use. Have corporations really been so successful in pulling the blinds over our collective eyes that people do not take issue with a company claiming ownership of the formative 'zilla' and any remote likeness of a "reptile-like creature?"

      This would be roughly equivalent to the owners of the Chef Boyardee trademark claiming ownership of "Chef" when used in conjunction with any food product:P

      Trademarks are NOT ownership of a word. It is ownership of a brand. Hence, I can call my product "Kleenex" if I'm selling candy. If I'm selling tissue, however, you can bet Kimberly-Clark would come knocking.
      • Re:Hard to argue (Score:2, Informative)

        by RazzleFrog ( 537054 )
        Excuse me? It's a clear case of fair use.

        Fair use does not apply to trademarks only copyrights. Two very different worlds. The name and image of Godzilla make up the trademark. The image of Godzilla is a copyrighted image. Trademarks are handles by the USPTO while Copyrights are handled by the Libary of Congress.
      • Re:Hard to argue (Score:5, Informative)

        by seebs ( 15766 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:40PM (#4063900) Homepage
        "fair use" is a feature of copyright law, and refers to specific kinds of usage (not just "anything I feel like"). Trademark law doesn't have that; you can use the trademarked thing only to refer to the trademarked product. If you were "passing off", or trying to use the name to refer to something *else*, that would be considered a violation. So, for instance, you can make gas caps and say "compatible with Ford Explorer", because you're using their trademark to refer to their product. On the other hand, if you were to create cans of processed meat labeled "SPAN" in yellow letters on a blue background showing a plate of ham-like substance, you would probably be sued, and rightfully so.

        'zilla' is a lot more like "Boyardee" than like "Chef". I certainly can't think of a lot of uses of it before Godzilla showed up.

        Some marks are deemed "famous", such that they get to reserve the whole field. This may be a bad design, but it's how the laws are written.

        Consider this: If I produce a candy called "Ford Bubblegum", no one is going to think it's a car, or that I'm doing it with a license from the car company.

        On the other hand, if I sold kitchen aprons labeled "Boyardee", someone might figure that, while it's not soup, it was clearly trying to take advantage of their fame.

        Here's the question: Would a typical user, confronted with a large dinosaur-like thing that walks on its back legs and has things down its back, and breathes fire, and has a name ending in "zilla", be likely to infer an association between that product and Godzilla?

        Yes, the user would.

        Thus, it's probably a violation.

        IANAL, but for fuck's sake, people, *THINK*. This looks exactly like trying to take advantage of someone else's product name and reputation to make your own product look cooler; in this case, trying to take the "big unstoppable monster" aspect of Godzilla and apply it to a browser. It even shows the traditional fire-breathing thing in the splash screen!
        • Maybe right, however (Score:4, Interesting)

          by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <chris DOT travers AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:58PM (#4064070) Homepage Journal
          Note that the user agent strings in most browsers say "Mozilla." For example, IE 6 on .NET Server says, "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.2; .NET CLR 1.0.3705)."

          This tells me that Mozilla has become common enough in its own right as distinct from Godzilla. The most they could do would be to try to force a change of mascot, much as it would be funny to see them try to argue "Your honor, we submit that the user agent string in Internet Explorer is in violation of our trademark rights, and demand 1% of all Windows sales revenue."
        • Re:Hard to argue (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gengee ( 124713 )
          "fair use" is a feature of copyright law, and refers to specific kinds of usage (not just "anything I feel like"). Trademark law doesn't have that; you can use the trademarked thing only to refer to the trademarked product.


          Ummm...You wish? Actually, I take it from your post that you don't wish - You're just misinformed. Trademark law does, and always has had, the concept of 'Fair Use'. I would refer you to the Lanham Act which covers the topic.

          Further, it has been made clear in innumerable court cases in the US that anyone is free to use any trademark for any purpose, so long as the consumer would not normally be confused by the use. To wit, in Soeco, Inc v. Shell Oil Co: "[A]nyone is free to use the term in its primary, descriptive sense so long as such use does not lead to customer confusion as to the source of the goods or services."

          Your "Boyardee" argument is valid, but I believe my original point is still valid, because Davezilla is not making movies (Or action figures, comic books, or otherwise trying to trade on the Godzilla character)
          • Re:Hard to argue (Score:3, Informative)

            by John Hasler ( 414242 )

            Your "Boyardee" argument is valid, but I believe
            my original point is still valid, because
            Davezilla is not making movies (Or action
            figures, comic books, or otherwise trying to
            trade on the Godzilla character)

            And his dragon resembles the one on the Welsh flag
            (http://www.data-wales.co.uk/flag.htm) far more than it does Godzilla.
    • huh? what about the FIRST PART OF THE NAME - *GOD*

      do they claim to own that? if they are going after "zilla" words, you should be able to throw it out due to the fact that we know how rediculous it would be if they claimed the same on any sites / words containing GOD in them.
    • Re:Hard to argue (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wavicle ( 181176 )
      I disagree... I think it would be easy to argue:

      Toho has no trademark on 'Zilla, because the use of that term for just about everything has become so common in the language that it no longer deserves trademark protection.

      Just as Johnson & Johnson lost its grip on "Band-Aid" which is now a synonym for bandage.

      The use of "'zillas" goes back many years and a trademark owner is required to agressively and proactively defend its trademark from dilution.

      "'Zilla" is diluted, there's a pretty strong argument for that. And that defeats a trademark.
      • Re:Hard to argue (Score:5, Informative)

        by isaac ( 2852 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @05:20PM (#4064766)
        Just as Johnson & Johnson lost its grip on "Band-Aid" which is now a synonym for bandage.

        If you think so, just try marketing a bandage called "Band-Aid" - Johnson & Johnson's well-funded legal department would be on your ass directly. Similarly, Kimberly-Clark ain't gonna let you sell "Kleenex" facial tissues. Xerox won't let you market "Xerox" machines. The Thermos company will lay the legal hurt on you if you try to sell vacuum insulated bottles by that name.

        The only former trademarks I can think of that have actually lost their protection are "Asprin" and "Heroin," which were both US trademarks belonging to Bayer AG until 1919 when the IP rights to these two "wonder drugs" were ceded in the Treaty of Versailles, NOT because they became generic terms. Aspirin became a generic term because the trademark was stripped, not the other way around.

        -Isaac

    • Re:Hard to argue (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GreyPoopon ( 411036 )
      Well, while there may be some contention over the "dinosaur" picture, there is little possibility for problems with the use of "zilla" in the name. Apparently, that word has existed since at least 1913 [beetfoundation.com], and the first movie (Gojira) didn't come out until 1954. As best as I can tell, Godzilla wasn't used until the 1956 American release.

      Also, they don't have a trademark on the use of a dinosaur. At best, they can keep you from using "Zilla" in conjunction with a dinosaur logo, but they surely should not be able to keep you from using one or the other alone.

      Personally, I think they should just back the heck off and count all of this as free advertising. It's not like they are losing any money as a result of these types of uses. All they are getting with a lawsuit is negative publicity. If they must protect their trademark, then at least come to an agreement that allows interested parties permission to specialized use of the name and/or logo.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:51PM (#4063392)
    Sun, 11 August, 2002
    Goodbye little dragon guy!
    [Blog] - Davezilla @ 07:07:43 pm
    re: DAVEZILLA.COM
    Dear Mr. Linabury:

    We represent Toho Co., Ltd ("Toho") in intellectual property matters. Toho is the owner of all rights in and to the trademark and service mark GODZILLA and the GODZILLA characters. In addition, the name "GODZILLA" and the likeness of Toho's GODZILLA character are federally registered trademarks belonging to Toho. Copies of Toho's U.S. Registrations for GODZILLA and the GODZILLA character image are enclosed.

    [Omitted long, dull paragraph about the history of Toho...]

    It has come to our attention that you have incorporated the "ZILLA" portion of our client's GODZILLA marks in the name of your "DAVEZILLA.COM" domain name, and that you have included a "reptile-like" character as well as a "monster-like" character, which you refer to as "GODZILLA", on your website accesible through "DAVEZILLA.COM." Please be advised that your use of the GODZILLA mark constitutes a trademark infringement and confuses consumers and the public into believing that your "GODZILLA" character originates from Toho, which it does not. Moreover, your use of the "ZILLA" formative along with imagery associated with GODZILLA is likely to cause the users of your site to believe that the "DAVEZILLA.COM" website is either associated with, authorized by, or sponsored by our client, and demonstrates an attempt by you to trade on the goodwill built up by our client. As such, we request that you remove the objectionable imagery and reference to GODZILLA from your website to eliminate any likelihood of confusion and posibility of an inaccurate affiliation with Toho and GODZILLA.

    We look forward to receiving your prompt reply, with a statement of your intentions, no later than August 16, 2002. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

    Very truly yours,

    SEYFARTH SHAW

    Jill A. Jacobs

    Wow. Guess the little dragon at the top has to go bye-bye. At least they are letting me keep the domain name. A few inaccuracies: I have, until today, never mentioned Godzilla, nor do I have any imagery of him on this site. Nor do I refer to my logo as Godzilla. It's always been, "That little dragon guy." Could have been a lot worse. Expect a new no changes to the banner and changes a tweak to the colophon. I'm not giving in.
  • God (Score:5, Funny)

    by Raster Burn ( 213891 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:51PM (#4063395)
    On a related note, God decides to sue Toho for using the word "God" without His permission.
    • Re:God (Score:5, Funny)

      by ThereIsNoSporkNeo ( 587688 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:56PM (#4063457)
      Where's he going to get the lawyers?

      Plus, I would assume that God would settle out of court. (Lightning rod anyone?)
    • Re:God (Score:2, Funny)

      by jazman_777 ( 44742 )
      On a related note, God decides to sue Toho for using the word "God" without His permission.

      On the contrary, I hear that Toho is going after all religions that use the word "God", since "some of them have acted monstrously", and people might get confused.

  • by smileyy ( 11535 ) <smileyy@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:51PM (#4063401)
    ...but the term "Mozilla" has been associated with Netscape for a long, long time, even before the open source project. In fact, you're likely to see "Mozilla" in most user agent strings, even from non-Netscape browsers.
    • That may be true, but that isn't going to change this guy's stand. Godzilla has probably been trademarked for at least 50 years (not that i've checked) and Mozilla has probably not even been in use for 10 years. That being said, Godzilla will certainly have the advantage in regards to time...Mozilla will need to prove that it doesn't actually infringe.
      • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:13PM (#4063659) Homepage
        Here's the thing. Trademark requires that the holder of the trademark actively defend their mark. If they do not do so and it falls into common usage, it's too bad so sad for the trademark holder. So, even if you successfully argue that Mozilla infringed on Godzilla (are these really confusingly similar?), the judge will ask why they have let it exist for the past 10 years without questioning it.
        • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:47PM (#4063957) Homepage
          Yeah, but we all know that most of the leveraging, actions, and reactions happening in the world today is in no way connected to reality and legality - the world is run on threats now.

          You know what that is? Stupid. It means its become more efficient and cheap to succumb to threats than to see issues through to their proper and (I can't stress this enough) correct conclusion. I have no feelings either which way in this case; what frusterates the FUCK out of me is that we'll likely never get to see who's right, in court.

          Personally, I'm waiting for the laywer industry to reform its traditional garb and start dressing more like jocks and repo men.
        • Not to mention the fact that trademarks extend only to references of the word or phrase with respect to a certain "trade". This is why Microsoft isn't able to sue glass-pane makers over the term "Windows".

          AFAIK and IANAL, Toho is going to have to prove that *zilla is in the same "trade" as Godzilla.

          Cheers,
          Slak
        • exactly. Search google for "zilla". The results show just how well they've defended their trademark.
    • by Omega ( 1602 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:04PM (#4063555) Homepage
      Almost every graphical web browser's User-Agent string starts with "Mozilla/4.0". So unless they go after Opera, AOL and Microsoft, then they aren't adequately defending their trademark -- hence they no longer own exclusive rights to the trademark.
      • While I disagree with their tactics in everyday business, I can say that it would be extremely funny to watch this company go after Microsoft.

        Microsoft Lawyer: "Your honor, we've taken the liberty of creating Godzilla using advanced cloning and dna-manipulation technology. He's just as big, just as mean, and of course, breathes fire. We feel it only fair to alert the people of Japan he will be on his way over should this ridiculous trial proceed any further."

        Toho Lawyer: "We must flee!"
  • Wowzilla. (Score:5, Funny)

    by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:51PM (#4063409) Homepage Journal
    That's fuckedzilla. Izilla hopezilla theyzilla don'tzilla comezilla afterzilla mezilla.
  • zilla != Godzilla (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fastball ( 91927 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:52PM (#4063413) Journal
    By their claim, Microsoft would be able to file suit against Microtek, Micron, Micromedia, Microware, ... I can see where there is an argument against the reptilian logo, but to parse letters in a non-profit project's title goes too far.
    • Re:zilla != Godzilla (Score:5, Informative)

      by jelwell ( 2152 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:58PM (#4063477)
      Mozilla is not a non-profit company. See the bug I filed bugzilla, bug 70249 - "Mozilla.org should become a non-profit Organization.". Mozilla is a wholey owned subsidary of AOL Time Warner. Don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors. Netscape still owns the copyright on Mozilla and owns the Mozilla.org website.

      There's been no activity on the bug for some time.

      You definately have a good point about names, I don't think they have a foot to stand on when it comes to the name alone.
      Joseph Elwell.
    • Yeah, but "Big Lizard, like the one used in Mozilla" == Godzilla.
    • Other things that could have originated the form "Zilla":

      Zoo Gorilla

      Zeus Pilla

      Shortening of Priscilla

      Z-Index Layers Lose All

      ZILch LAtitude

      Zero Internet Lan Lag Access

      I like creative names, and if a product name happens to pay homage to a famous fire-breathing dinosaur, so be it. Besides, Mozilla sounds a lot cooler than Moceratops or Morannosaurus or Mobarney.

    • Problem is that the reptilian logo looks more like either a t-rex or a velociraptor than a guy in a cheesy costume.

      BG
  • by jelwell ( 2152 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:53PM (#4063420)
    This is one of the reasons there's no longer a green Mozilla logo, nor can you buy Mozilla dolls anymore. The owners of godzilla came down on Mozilla long ago.
    joe.
    • " This is one of the reasons there's no longer a green Mozilla logo,"

      Then I must be color-blind. I keep on seeing a green, fire-breathing lizard on the splash screen whenever I start Moz. And there's another green lizard delivering mail when I start Moz mail.
    • I still see the fire breathing green dragon when I start Mozilla 1.somethingorother
    • No. [lotekk.net]

      Mozilla has always (well, almost always) used a red dinosaur instead of Netscape's green lizard. Somebody probably considered the trademark thing at some point, but the switch was made only to make it clear that Mozilla.org was a separate entity from Netscape. If Netscape the company ever started using Mozilla as its mascot again, it would still be green.

  • I was in the middle of typing a sensible and well thought out reply about the extent to which the Godzilla trademark should be protected from ripp-offs. Then I realized that the situation can better be described in one sentence.

    What a Dick!

  • Too Late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nathanm ( 12287 ) <nathanm&engineer,com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:55PM (#4063440)
    Mozilla's been around for what, about 4 years? If this company sat around for that long without defending their trademark, too bad! Any rational, impartial judge (if they exist) would throw this out of court.
    • Re:Too Late (Score:2, Informative)

      Mozilla has been around for much, much longer. Probably as long as Netscape Navigator exists.
    • Re:Too Late (Score:3, Informative)

      by aengblom ( 123492 )
      Not neccesarily true. WWF (The world wildlife fund) just recently won the exclusive rights to it's abbreviation over the WWE (formely World Wrestling Foundation... now World Wrestling Entertainment)

      As WWE campaign famously says "get the F out" ;-)
      • Re:Too Late (Score:3, Informative)

        by edwdig ( 47888 )
        The World Wildlife Fund first complained in the early ninties. The World Wrestling Federation made a bad move, and agreed to a contract not to use the initials outside the US. They had no intentions of honoring that, they just signed it to shut up the wildlife fund. Eventually the Wildlife Fund sued over it, and recently won in court do to that old contract.
    • Re:Too Late (Score:5, Informative)

      by bwt ( 68845 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @05:31PM (#4064859) Homepage
      Indeed, Netscape filed for trademark protection for the term "Mozilla" on 7-July-1995, under serial number 74698316 [uspto.gov].

      However, since 18-July-1997, the status has been "An opposition is now pending at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board." There has not been a resolution and so "Mozilla" is not a registered trademark.
  • God forbid! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brooks_talley ( 86840 ) <brooks@fEULERrnk.com minus math_god> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:55PM (#4063442) Journal
    I feel so sorry for this poor company. Having one of their trademarks lightly referenced in the context of the open source vs. Microsoft battle. Thus keeping the mark in front of not only geeks, but a fair amount of the mainstream as well. Thereby increasing interest in their Godzilla properties, and generally entrenching the -zilla suffix in the not only english, but other languages as well.

    It must be terrible for them, all that free publicity.

    Of course, to retain control of the trademark it might be necessary to come to some licensing agreement, but trying to stamp out the use of -zilla is a serious case of shooting oneself in the foot. Hormel wised up about Spam; you'd think these folks would learn from that example.

    Cheers
    -b
  • also (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:56PM (#4063449)
    The gecko from Geico insurance is getting hassled again by email.
  • by Eberlin ( 570874 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:57PM (#4063474) Homepage
    ...we need Robert Smith of The Cure to save us now. Nothing like a good ol' roshambo to settle this dispute.
  • by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:58PM (#4063479) Homepage Journal

    I recommend the Mozilla project change its mascot to another cute character ...

    Something more approachable, but still computer related ... a mouse would do nicely...

    Since the original name was derived from Mosaic, and the NCSA project is shelved and Spyglass is no more, "Mosaic Mouse" would do nicely...

    OK, sing it with me...

    Who's the browser, Open Sourced, that's made for you and me?
    M O S - A I C
    M O U S E!
    • ObSimpsons (Score:3, Funny)

      by sharkey ( 16670 )
      I used to own Mickey Mouse Massage Parlors, then those Disney sleazebags shut me down. Look, I said, I'll change the logo, put Mickey's pants back on, but there's just no reasoning with some people.
  • Not a big deal. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <samuel.bcgreen@com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:58PM (#4063482) Homepage Journal
    In this case, they claim that he actually used the "Godzilla" name, and the image of a Godzilla-like creature. I think that his biggest mistake was not attributing the owners of the trademark he was 'using', and not including something like "used without permission", or "appologies to the {I for get the name} -- owners of the Godzilla trademark".

    For the most part, however, I doubt that people would think that dave was endorsed by the Godzilla trademark owners. Less so, Mozilla which doesn't actually use the "Godzilla" name. There's nothing wrong with parody, or flattery by mimicry. I don't think that there's much reason for fear, as long as the Mozilla group doesn't try to branch into the horror-movie genre.

    • I think the kid said he hadn't ever used the "Godzilla" name though. So he has a domain name with 5 common characters in it and a lizard on his website. I don't think there's much of a violation there. Now if he blatently ripped the image from the official Godzilla homepage or something then yeah I'd say he's SOL. I think if he could afford to stand against Toho, he'd win fairly easily. The cost of ligitation would still suck though.
  • probably too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jd142 ( 129673 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @02:58PM (#4063486) Homepage
    I think that it's too late for Toho. I think that they waited too long and the suffix -zilla has entered the language, much the same way Kleenex has. The only reason they are going up against a little guy first is the obvious: get one guy to cave to show that you were diligent in your protection of your trademark so that when you sue a company with real money, AOL/Time-Warner, you've got a little bit of precedent on your side. But even so I think a) too little too late and b) no way is AOL going to cave.

    Almost sounds as if Toho got bought by the same people who are now claiming the jpeg patent.

    • Before there was Davezilla or Mozilla...

      Dave Pelkey wrote a book called, "Dogzilla" somewhere around the time he wrote, "Cat Kong" so I wonder if anyone else will be trying to sue him.

      Someone, either STWPC or one of those other old kit-electronics outfits (not Heath) had "Ampzilla" and "Godzilla" stereo amplifier kits.

      Blue Oyster Cult had the hit tune, "Godzilla" so I wonder if they properly obtained use of the trademark.

      I'm sure someone can come up with more, those -zillas are just off the top of my head.
  • Oh Shit (Score:5, Funny)

    by aozilla ( 133143 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:01PM (#4063527) Homepage
    My nick is in trouble.
  • Not going to fly. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mesozoic ( 134277 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:02PM (#4063529)
    It's going to be a stretch for Toho to prove what it needs to prove: that Mozilla is infringing on a trademark. The words 'Godzilla' are not used anywhere, and the logo is of a different shape and color than Godzilla (it looks more like a T-Rex than anything else). The suffix 'zilla' and the presence of a reptilian image is not enough to shut down a software project. If it were a movie, however, this would be a different issue.

    I'm not a lawyer, though, so anyone with a legal education and a better angle on the subject, feel free to correct.
  • by dschuetz ( 10924 ) <davidNO@SPAMdasnet.org> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:03PM (#4063541)
    Okay, I'll grant you that calling something ".+zilla" and using a dinosaur/dragon-like logo is probably coming close to violating a Godzilla trademark.

    But what ever happened to the concept of a restricted space within which trademarks are (were?) supposed to operate? I had understood that trademarks were only protected within the same general "realm" of a product -- which is how we've got Excel cars and Excel spreadsheets.

    It's seemed to me, with the advent of the modern internet, that all these distinctions have been thrown away, and that the courts are allowing that diminished distinction. So Palm has to stop calling their Pilot a "Pilot" because a pen company complains.

    Does anyone know what exactly is the deal here? Have domain-name disputes finally opened the door for a single, universal, all-encompasing product namespace?

    If someone wants to call their browser Mozilla (or even Godzilla), then they should be able to, because the chances of someone confusing a web browser with a big lizard are pretty darned slim.

    Or have I misunderstood this aspect of (US) trademark law all along?
    • Nolo Press has a good book about trademark law.

      Once a trademark becomes famous there's a different set of rules that come into play. Even before the Internet you would have had major grief if you'd tried to sell cars or stereos labeled "McDonald's".

      What the Internet has been eroding is the concept of a regional trademark, under which there could be a Foobar General Store in Iowa and other in Nebraska.

      Words to search for include "dilution", "secondary meaning", and "famous mark".

      If you really need to know about a legal question consult an actual lawyer.
  • I wonder if they'll go after the product of one of my former employers, Go!Zilla [gozilla.com]. It used to have a more lizardy logo, but now it only has big eyes.

    As a lark when I worked there, I once arranged for us to buy a number of 6 foot inflatable Godzilla dolls, which we dressed in company t-shirts and abused. We also had "I love the lizard!" logo tshirts.

    But that was a long time ago and the company is gone now; only the product remains.
  • Just look [netcraft.com] at all the lawsuits waiting to happen.
  • Awful name (Score:2, Troll)

    by Animats ( 122034 )
    Maybe it's a good time for Mozilla to get a name that would look good on a mass-market product. Maybe go back to "Mosaic"? Yes, it's possible to succeed with a dumb name, but it takes a really big advertising budget.

    And would someone please help out the Ogg Vorbis people?

  • by mocm ( 141920 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:09PM (#4063612) Homepage
    The zilla is only a relict of a misleading transcription of the ji syllable which is the soft form of shi (or si) in the alternate trasncription.
    Anyway, the zilla could be an allusion to jirasu (to irritate) ;-)
  • But Zilla [dictionary.com] is a dictionary word.

    You'd think they'd get the hint after Microsoft unsuccesifully sued Lindows, claiming that they owned anything ending in "indows". If M$ can't do it, how is another company going to?
  • See, they didn't name Mozilla after a Japanese movie monster, they named after a certain Blue Oyster Cult song. Big difference! :)
  • Nonsense (Score:3, Funny)

    by sys49152 ( 100346 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:13PM (#4063660)
    be advised that your use of the GODZILLA mark .. confuses consumers and the public into believing that your "GODZILLA" character originates from Toho

    Nonsense, everyone knows that Godzilla originated in the depths of time and crawled out of the Pacific after the U.S. nuked the Bikini Islands.

    Moreover, your use of the "ZILLA" formative ... is likely to cause the users of your site to believe that the "DAVEZILLA.COM" website is either associated with, authorized by, or sponsored by our client

    This is what is known as a portmanteau word. That is a word that conveys meaning by using parts of other words that have definite associations. Words such as smog (smoke and fog), or, more inline with davezilla, monicagate (Monica and Watergate), infomercial (info and commercial), and Linux (Linus and Unix). Whether this can be construed as trademark infringement is somebody else's call, but I rather think that The Almighty (God) and Homer (Trademark holder of the monster named Scylla) might have something to say about this.

  • Lindows (Score:4, Insightful)

    by d3xt3r ( 527989 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:15PM (#4063679)
    If Lindows is a not a trademark violation, than certainly neither is Mozilla.

    Mozilla has nothing to do with Godzilla. Godzilla is a fictional character, Mozilla is a web browser and a user-agent. The term "Mozilla" as a user-agent has been around since the early days of Netscape. My guess is that any attempt to sue the Mozilla organization for trademark violation would be laughed out of court.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:15PM (#4063684) Homepage Journal
    The character and the movie is GOJIRA.

    God-zilla is an American Eenglish bastardization. They should at least after the right fucking phoneme.

    how rame.
  • doesnt matter if he is using the logo or name or not - the /. effect will prevent people from seeing any of his "infringments" and confusing DAVEzilla with a short japanese actor in a rubber suit knocking over bala-wood buildings.
  • This is seriously fucked up. I'm at the point where I think its time we simply declared open season on all lawyers. At least scumbag lawyers like the ones who write these kind of letters.

    Sign up their email addresses to porn. Post their sites on portal of evil.com and watch them get trolled. Let the hack attacks begin. I'm sorry but its high time we the people put an end this the obscene litigation in this country.
  • Hey, don't forget to nail these bastards for giving you TONS of free publicity!

    Oh wait, some of them are dead? Fine, the lawyers can sue their descendants!

    In fact, screw a national ID system. Every American needs a Personal Assigned Lawyer. Then we can all just have our PAL's sue each other until the entire world collapses under the weight of our beloved democratic Red Tape (TM).

    Damnit! I'm not OLD enough to be this SICK of our society yet!!!
  • by sdjunky ( 586961 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:20PM (#4063740)
    Here is Dictionary.com's definition [dictionary.com] of zilla.

    Also, consider that Microsoft didn't win againts Lindows and that's a much closer match since it even pertains to the same kind of item or good e.g. an Operating System
  • by Art Tatum ( 6890 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:25PM (#4063774)
    And rename it 'Butthead Japanese Company' instead.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:27PM (#4063782) Journal
    Because at the end of Godzilla 2000 there's a little japanese guy that says that "There's a little Godzilla in all of us".

    Don't know if that's legally binding or not.
  • by Ironica ( 124657 ) <pixel@boondo c k . o rg> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @03:49PM (#4063976) Journal
    While Toho first trademarked [uspto.gov] the Godzilla word mark in 1981, they did not hold a trademark [uspto.gov] on its use in computer software until October of 1994. Mozilla started in "mid-1994" from the best info I've been able to find. I seem to remember someone showing it to me in the spring of that year, though that might have been Mosaic. Neither their first trademark nor the software one have any illustrations or descriptions of a lizard-like monster creature, though; that does not appear to be a part of the trademark. Their most comprehensive trademark [uspto.gov] was registered in 2000, presumably with the launch of the Sony movie. That one *still* doesn't describe godzilla though.

    I'm no trademark attorney, but I'm guessing that, since they're not claiming in the trademark registration that the mark consists of the word + the monster, they don't have a leg to stand on with *zilla claims. Also, it doesn't appear they stopped Bugzilla [uspto.gov] (the cleaning agent, not the software) from registering its trademark in 2000. Milton Bradley has also owned a trademark on Eggzilla [uspto.gov] since 1987.

    All in all, they have a lot of fish to fry if they're going to try to reserve *zilla as their own, including multiple existing or pending trademarks. (Budzilla, Rodzilla, and Speedzilla are all currently published for opposition.)

    I love the Trademark Electronic Search System...
  • -Zilla? (Score:3, Funny)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @04:14PM (#4064213) Homepage
    That's a killa! Next they go after vanilla and [the artist formerly identifiable as] Michael Jackson and his "Thrilla." And what about Hanna-Barbera and their Magilla Gorilla?

    This whole thing just makes me feel illa.
  • by Myco ( 473173 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @05:16PM (#4064733) Homepage
    I'm amused by how readily /.ers will jump up in defense of anyone accused of any sort of IP infringement. The suffix "-zilla" has entered the lexicon as a direct result of the Godzilla franchise. If I start a restaurant and sell a product called "sandwichzilla," you know I'm talking about a big honkin' monster of a sammich. And if I use a reptilian mascot to hawk said sammich, you know it's a reference to Godzilla. The very uniqueness of the name, and its well-known association with a giant reptilian monster, is exactly why this is legitimate infringement. It's asking too much suspension of disbelief to suppose that I might have independently come up with the nonsense syllables "zilla" and chosen to associate them with the very attributes that the "Godzilla" trademark has made famous.

    But Toho has taken far too long to say anything about it, and they have no legitimate grounds upon which to complain now. They failed to defend their mark, and now it's part of the common lexicon. It's like what we saw recently with the claims of a privately-held patent on the JPEG standard. Many people rightly quoted, uh, someone, saying something like "those who sleep on their rights cannot expect others to defend them."

  • New name: (Score:3, Funny)

    by acceleriter ( 231439 ) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @05:23PM (#4064787)
    Butthead Japanese Filmmaker. (Along the lines of Apple's codename "Sagan," which was changed to "BHA" for butt head astronomer when Sagan whined.)

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