The IP Issues Faced by Fonts/Typefaces

I recently spoke to a potential client who had licensed a font/typeface from a designer for a new logo for a local start up.  Having little/no background with fonts I had quite a few questions about the license and its scope. I did a quick Google search of articles on them and came across some interesting information.

While fonts and typefaces are not new, they do appear to be getting quite a bit of coverage in the legal world these days.  A recent article on Wired.com shed some light on piracy and typeface.  To me this was an interesting read and the follow up article on PlagiarismToday.com was even more interesting.

PlagiarismToday.com’s Johnathan Bailey points out that Fonts and Typefaces have the potential to be impacted by all three branches of Intellectual Property Law while still not being fully protected under any of them. The following excerpt from his article specifically lays out how Fonts and Typefaces can be protected in each branch.

  1. Copyright: Though one can’t copyright the alphabet or even the specific design of a typeface, the file itself that contains the typeface and installs it on a machine is considered copyrighted software, meaning it can be protected under the law.
  2. Trademark: The name of the typeface enjoys trademark protection and a specific font may as well if it is designed and used exclusively for a corporate logo.
  3. Patent: Design patents can be awarded to typefaces that are adequately original.

This is an area that going forward I’m going to be paying a little bit more attention to since the growth of font and typeface design has seemed to skyrocketed in the recent Internet age.

 

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