FONT LAWSUITS

 

 

Font infrigement lawsuits. Contact Font Shield.

There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Wrong.

And if you think font license infringement lawsuits are folklore, think again – they can and do exist. In fact, the majority of font licensing infringements are settled well before they make it to court in order to mitigate negative publicity and additional costs.

No brand or advertising agency likes bad press. The optics of being accused of infringing on someone else’s intellectual property can be unsavory.

The cases listed below are some that made it to the press . . .

Click on the red links for the full details of each case.

Font Diner vs Haribo – November 2017
Damages sought:  $150,000
Final status of complaint:  Currently being litigated

According to the article, confectioner Haribo of America allegedly used Font Diner’s Stovetop typeface on packaging for “Haribo Trick or Treat Mix” sweets.  A basic desktop license was purchased by Haribo’s design firm, but the necessary license upgrade for commercial, for-profit use wasn’t.

Berthold vs Target – October 2017
Damages sought:  up to $150,000 per infringement
Final status of complaint:  Currently being litigated

According to the article, Target allegedly used Berthold Type Group’s Akzidenz Grotesk font in a promotional video which violated the licensing agreement. The font originally was only licensed by Target for internal business purposes only.

HypeForType vs Universal Music Studios – The Vamps – August 2017
Damages sought:  $1.25 Million and destruction of all existing materials and merchandise
Final status of complaint:  Currently being litigated

According to the article, HypeForType alleges that Universal Music Studios used their Nanami Rounded and Ebisu Bold fonts in the logo of the popular British band “The Vamps” and created artwork, promotional materials and merchandising such as clothing, accessories, DVDs and CDs without obtaining licensing. The complaint states that Designer Stuart Hardie did purchase a basic license for the fonts in 2013, but Universal did not purchase the additional and required license upgrade to use the fonts on a commercial scale.

Berthold vs Volvo – June 2017
Damages sought:  $30,000 per day
Final status of complaint:  Unknown

According to the article, Berthold alleges that Volvo used Berthold’s typeface and typeface software without permission. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs further allege the defendants created the typeface “Volvo Sans 2012 OT Pro”, which was derived from the plaintiffs’ typeface software under copyright.

Font Bros. vs Hasbro – My Little Pony – January 2016
Damages sought:  $150,000 per infringement
Final status of complaint:  Currently being litigated in court

According to the article, it is alleged that Hasbro used Font Bros’ Generation B font to create My Little Pony toys, videos, advertising materials and website without obtaining/purchasing licensing. It is also alleged that Hasbro created unauthorized copies of the Generation B Font Software and distributed them to their third party vendors.

Berthold vs Scripps Networks Interactive – August 2014
Damages sought:  Undisclosed damages, termination of license, legal costs
Final status of complaint:  Unknown
According to the complaint, in 2006, Scripps purchased a traditional end user license to use certain Berthold fonts, but breached the license by modifying the font software and utilizing it for external business use, both of which are forbidden by the user agreement.

Font Diner vs CafePress (invitationbox.com) – April 2013
Damages sought:  $900,000+
Final status of complaint:  Unknown
According to the complaint, CafePress (invitationbox.com), without the purchase of either a basic license or an additionally required special license, used and permitted the use of several of Font Diner’s fonts by unlicensed third parties to interactively create/customize typeset words or text via the internet that would later be printed on or affixed to products offered by CafePress. 

Font Diner vs Mixpanel (for use in Tumblr theme) – March 2013
Damages sought:  $2 Million
Final status of complaint:  Settled out of court
According to the complaint, Font Diner alleged that Mixpanel used their “Coffee Service” font by embedding it in a Tumblr theme which made it available to all. This use-case was not permitted by their license.

Brand Design Company Inc. (House Industries) vs NBC Universal – July 2012
Damages sought:  $3.5 Million
Final status of complaint:  Settled for an undisclosed amount
According to the article, Brand Design alleged that NBCU subsidiary Oxygen Media purchased a basic, 36 user license to use the CHALET typeface font software. However, Brand Design says the licensing agreement did not permit the use of copyrighted font software on NBCU’s websites. NBCU is accused of using a free font software conversion utility offered by an organization called Font Squirrel to convert and alter the font into a format that allowed it to be embedded into websites. This purportedly violates licensing terms on modification.

+ISM vs Turner Broadcasting Systems / Titleboy Films dba Prologue Films (Falling Skies) – February 2012
Damages sought:  $200,000 + permanent injunction
Final status of complaint:  Settled out of court for an undisclosed amount
+ISM Studio, claimed that the Falling Skies lettering in marketing materials was too close to their Anthropolymorphics font. In the U.S., typefaces are not subject to copyright. But font software is. +ISM alleged that the show breached the licensing agreement on the font software by disobeying the terms of use. If the lawsuit had proceeded, +ISM would have had to prove that TBS physically used his software instead of just tracing the font.

P22 Type Foundry vs NBC Universal (Harry Potter) – January 2012
Damages sought:  $1.5 Million + destruction of all relevant merchandise
Final status of complaint:  Settled out of court for an undisclosed amount
P22 alleged that their Cezanne font was used by NBC Universal and some of their manufacturers to create various Harry Potter themed souvenirs sold at Universal theme parks and through their web site. It is also alleged that some of the manufacturers did not even purchase a basic license or any additional licensing required to create and sell commercial products. 

Typotheque vs Raise Digital (for work on Rick Santorum campaign) – August 2011
Damages sought:  $2 Million
Final status of complaint:  Unknown
Font Foundry Typotheque asserted that Raise Digital had no license to use their “Fedra” font. They also claim they modified the same unlicensed “Fedra” font software in order to use it in on Rick Santorum’s website – a further licensing violation.

Font Bureau vs NBC – October 2009
Damages sought:  $2 Million
Final status of complaint:  Unknown
According to the article, Font Bureau alleged that NBC used three of Font Bureau’s fonts to produce network and show promos on TV and on the web. These fonts were only licensed for a single workstation but were used on multiple computers. Font Bureau also alleged that NBC distributed several copies of the same fonts to third parties outside of NBC.

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