09 October 2009

[type] Font Bureau to NBC: You Been SERVED!

2228.Unlicensed fonts are something that every designer tries to avoid. But fonts are so pretty … so … shiny …

ahhhh …

Oh! Where was I?! Anyway, there have been some high-profile font cases in the past. What usually happens is that a company, organization or individual buys some digital type, and the typical license allows the purchaser to install on a limited number of computers (usually just one; you have to pay for a license for each computer that will use the font). Now, with fonts being digital files that are so easily copied about, its understandable that sometimes a single user will carry a copy of his or her fonts somewhere else.

But when a media company – who should know all about creative rights and IP – does it, it redefines awkward.

Allow me to introduce you to the newest member of the Legally Awkward Hall o' Fame: The Peacock:

It seems NBC didn't secure the rights to use a handful of Font Bureau's trademarked typefaces. The same ones, we should add, that have been used as part of NBC's fall marketing campaign to tout shows like The Jay Leno Show, Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

In a trademark and copyright infringement lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Font Bureau argues that NBC only paid for a single license—which would only permit the company to install the typefaces on a single computer—and only paid to use a limited number of fonts. But NBC went ahead and copied the fonts to a bunch of other computers within the company, Font Bureau claims, and also started using several other fonts for which licenses were never obtained. (In case you're wondering, the typefaces in question include Bureau Grotesque, Interstate and Antenna.)

Like I said, awkward.

This is going to try to cost them a bit of change … only about, oh, 2 Megabucks. Pocket change, really. Cancel Heroes, which I hear is on its death bed anyway, and you have your scratch right there.

Hey, I'm pretty good at this TV stuff! Hire me! My first project: the long-awaited Space:1999 revival …

You're gonna like it. Shut up, you!

And go check your font licenses while you're at it.

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