W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > April 2008

Re: WebFonts ready for use

From: Brad Kemper <brkemper@comcast.net>
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2008 21:07:50 -0700
Cc: Håkon Wium Lie <howcome@opera.com>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-Id: <7840E708-2DB1-44B2-B102-A4EB8B81F1BE@comcast.net>
To: Paul Nelson (ATC) <paulnel@winse.microsoft.com>

On Apr 21, 2008, at 4:39 PM, Paul Nelson (ATC) wrote:

> Based on discussions with font developers who are up to speed on the  
> technology, they view this as a threat that they intend to treat  
> like any other public posting of their IP to the Web. So they will  
> deal with each occurrence the old fashioned way with cease and  
> desist notices.

The law is pretty twisted, when you have the right to display text in  
the typeface you paid for, but only in print and not on the Web.

Trademarks, design patents and copyrights

There are three types of protection that can be afforded to typefaces  
and fonts in addition to basic license agreements: trademark, design  
patent and copyright. These are intended to keep non-licensees from  
copying the fonts in some way and passing them off as original  
material. They each have implications for the computer support person.
The Trademark system is the weakest form of protection, allowing only  
the font name itself to be protected. Hermann Zapf's popular typeface  
PalatinoTM is arguably the most copied typeface in the world. Many  
companies made their own identical versions of it (including the Book  
Antiqua distributed in the past by Microsoft), but had to change the  
name. This means that no one is allowed to use a currently existing  
typeface name for a new font, even if the fonts are completely  
The Design Patent system is the strongest, but most uncommon type of  
protection. The designation is relatively rare because of the cost and  
effort involved, but is powerful. It is the only US legal precedent  
that protects the actual design - the individual shapes of the letters  
in a font. The Lucida font  family (designed by Bigelow and Holmes)  
were some of the first digital fonts to be given a patent. If a  
designer were to copy them, even by redrawing them from scratch using  
pencil and paper, he would be in serious legal trouble.
The Copyright system is the most commonly used type of protection, but  
has also been the most vague and difficult to enforce. There is no  
explicit protection for fonts or typeface designs in US copyright law.  
Hence, fonts have, until recently, fallen between the cracks in the  
justice system.

Received on Tuesday, 22 April 2008 04:08:37 UTC

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