Navigating Font Legalities

Takeaway: Fonts are valuable intellectual property, and using them without proper licenses can lead to serious legal issues.

Fonts are more than design and branding elements — they are valuable assets with legal implications. Recent cases underscore the need for brand owners to be savvy about font intellectual property, including obtaining necessary licenses or using open source fonts with proper credit given.

It is important to understand in branding that different types of intellectual property cover different aspects of font use. Trademark protects typeface names, design patents cover designs, and copyright extends to the source code generating the font. While font may seem like a small aspect of branding, brand owners must navigate it diligently to safeguard creative assets and steer clear of legal pitfalls.

For example,Laatz v. Zazzle Inc. exemplify the legal repercussions of font misuse. Zazzle Inc., an online marketplace, faced allegations of using fonts improperly, leading to a legal battle and court orders. Similarly, Rite Aid encountered legal challenges for allegedly using the neutraface font in violation of the desktop license, triggering claims of breach of contract, false designation of origin, and other legal actions.