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.”

Nevertheless, the option is there on Dell’s UK site, on at least one model:

dell uk firefox Mozilla is investigating why Dell UK is charging £16.25 to install Firefox, says no such deal exists with anyone

A Mozilla spokesperson further pointed us to the specific section in the company’s trademark policy covering such activity. Under Software Distributions, the document states:

If you are using the Mozilla Mark(s) for the unaltered binaries you are distributing, you may not charge for that product. By not charging, we mean the Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information. If you want to sell the product, you may do so, but you must call that product by another name—one unrelated to Mozilla or any of the Mozilla Marks. Remember that we do not want the public to be confused.

News of the suprising practice first came via a report from The Register. TNW checked Dell’s website in the US, the UK, and Canada to verify the authenticity.

We could not locate a Firefox option on the customization page for any Dell product in the US or Canada, but the UK site did have the option for the Optiplex 7010. We have contacted Dell for more information and will update this article as we learn more.

Update at 5:30PM EST: Dell has responded by saying that this practice is okay because the company is charging for the service and not the product.

“Dell Configuration Services, including the application loading service, ensure customers have a complete, ready to use product when it arrives,” a Dell spokesperson told TNW. “In this particular situation, the customer would not be charged for the Mozilla Firefox software download, rather the fee would cover the time and labour involved for factory personnel to load a different image than is provided on the system’s standard configuration.”

This is a fine line Dell is dancing on. Mozilla’s policy doesn’t just encompass the software, but its installation as well, as noted in the earlier quote.

See also – Firefox 27 arrives with simultaneous Social API services, SPDY 3.1 and TLS 1.2 support, more languages on Android and Mozilla previews Firefox Launcher for Android with adaptive app search from EverythingMe