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Subject: Re: The first LaserWriter fonts
From: David Lemon <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 17 Oct 1996 07:49:02 -0700

text/plain (45 lines)

I wrote:
> When Microsoft released the Monotype analogues, ITC sued Monotype for
> breach of contract. The standard contract signed by companies which
> licensed ITC designs (which included Monotype) stipulated that the
> companies would not sell "similar" designs into the same markets. Thus the
> case turned on the question of whether the Monotype analogues were too
> similar to the ITC designs (Avant Garde Gothic, Bookman, New Century
> Schoolbook, Zapf Chancery and Zapf Dingbats). Although it's clear that the
> Monotype fonts weren't outright clones (harder to say in the case of Book
> Antiqua) I was surprised that Monotype found a fellow at Reading who was
> willing to testify they were not similar, and the court bought it.
> Personally, I'm still a bit bewildered about how Corsiva just happens to be
> swashed in the same way as Zapf Chancery...

and Don Hosek supplied an examination of the history behind some of the ITC
designs and the Monotype analogues, ending with the comment:
> When one starts to dig into the origins of faces, there's a lot of
> muddy ground there. I think that any progress into type copyright
> would require a formal declaration of amnesty for past "crimes" ;-)

I agree that many type companies have libraries which include designs of
questionable originality (and am proud to work for one which has not sunk
to this practice - with the possible exception of a few faces we license).
However, ITC's suit against Monotype's analogues was not based on copyright
nor originality, but on similarity. I believe the clause in their contract
was intended to prevent things like having Linotype selling the pre-ITC
versions of New Century Schoolbook or Galliard, which were originally
Linotype designs.

As DH points out, Monotype's analogues did have clear associations with
designs that predated the ITC ones. Of course, they were also clearly
modified to reflect the ITC ones - matching not only metrics but also
weights, heights, and design features (many, but not all, of the latter).
Thus history wasn't the point, and similarity was the issue. Certainly
intent wasn't.

I must give Monotype its historical due. Monotype pretty much invented the
notion of reviving classic designs (Dante is one of my favorites) and also
did new designs that have since become classics (e.g. Gill Sans). I don't
mean to imply that they've done nothing but borrow from the success of
others. I just wish that sort of stuff could fade with the old technology
that semi-justified it.

- David Lemon
  type nerd

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