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Re: Do we have trademark infringements by fonts?

On Tue, Feb 18, 2003 at 06:49:26PM -0800, Terry Hancock wrote:
> On Tuesday 18 February 2003 04:28 am, Anton Zinoviev wrote:
> > A friend of mine has pointed me that it is very likely that many fonts
> > have problems with trademark infringement.  I suppose that some
> > (most?) of the font names are registered,
> > I don't know what is the right legal choice, 
> IANAL, but what Corel did with Corel Draw, which included a whole lot of 
> "look alike" fonts was to give them alternate (but similar) names.  They 
> probably claimed trademark on them.   So, for example, "Lucida" becomes 
> "Lucid" or "Lucy" and so on.  Designers using free software would just have 
> to get used to the new names (never bothered me with Corel Draw, and I'd be 
> fine with it in Debian).  So, Debian could simply use new names and actually 
> claim tradmark status on them to prevent any kind of grab for the names (but 
> that's easy enough if you just call it "Debian Lucid" or something).
> You could distribute a key somewhere which says that "Debian Loafer" is 
> derived from "Gold Brick" or some such thing. Since it doesn't represent the 
> alternative *as* the original, that's perfectly okay -- you're just claiming 
> the fonts are similar (and I think you can do the equivalent internally when 
> considering font substitution rules).
> This is just my impression of what's been done before by companies who were 
> faced with this issue (I'm pretty sure I've seen other examples of this, but 
> I know Corel did it).


Just another precedent more close to Debian's line of work:

I seem to recall, that MS got into trouble with the names
Helvetica and Times Roman back around Windows 3.0 (1990),
because the bitmap fonts they provided by those names were not
licensed from the company that held those two trademarks.  It
may even have gone to court.

The settlement or ruling resulted in the following changes in
Windows 3.10 (1992):

1. The fonts were renamed "MS Sans Serif" and "MS Serif".

2. The names "Tms Rmn" and "Helvetica" were no longer returned
  by font enumeration APIs or displayed in menus etc. (Unless of
  cause the user independently obtained genuine fonts by those

3. A new "FontSubstitutes" configuration section was added and
  prefilled with mappings from "Tms Rmn" to "MS Serif" and
  "Helvetica" to "MS Sans Serif" .  This allowed hardcoded fonts
  in software and data to remain valid.  The text I read noted
  that this might be a special exception they negotiated, but it
  was a technical book, not a law book.

4. Microsoft/Apples brand new TrueType fonts of similar design
  were called "Times New Roman" and "Arial" to avoid a repeat
Those with access to legal libraries may be able to look up the
real case details, this was a by memory account of a footnote in
a 10 year old technical book (Maybe Matt Pietrek et al:
"Undocumented Windows", but I am not sure).

Just trying to help


This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
Trademarks and other things belong to their owners, if any.

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