A name is a name… or not?

I really saw this mess coming when I read the announcement that Mozilla’s Phoenix will be called Firebird for now: Firebird is a spin off of the once open-sourced Interbase-Database Server by Borland existing for three years now and using the name “Firebird” since then.

As you can imagine, the Firebird (DB)-People were not too happy about this – Phoenix had to be renamed because of a naming conflict and the new solution still creates one – but this time it’s not a commercional product it’s conflicting with – its another Open Source project.

I can understand both sides:

Mozilla
The name Firebird has been checked by Netscapes/AOLs legal departement (why have they not noticed this? or is it maybe that they thought it would not matter?) and another name-change would again involve the legal departement which won’t please neither the BIOS vendor Phoenix not the Mozilla-Team as they will not release another milestone called phoenix.

Firebird
Firebrid already suffers from not really be known in the public. The RDBMS it spun off is known mainly by delphi-developers and neither Interbase nor Firebird were often in the press these days. A more known product with the same name will further divert attention. And the psycological reason: The name Firebird was chosen based on the real political mess around open-sourcing Interbase and is, in my oppinion, a very well chosen name.

Why I can understand the arguments on both sides, I can neither offer a solution pleasing for both projects (besides the question why Phoenix is not to be called simply “Mozilla” – after all, the Browser-Component in the Mozilla Suite is to be replaced by Firebird (the browser) anyway) nor can I understand the way the folks around Firebird (the DB) react to the problem (and here – an entry in Dave Hyatts blog). War is never a solution – never!