FJ vs H

apankrat's picture
bemerx25's picture

Sigh... it's bad when this stuff happens between friends who are also business partners. Also, sadly, another reason to always get offers and contracts in writing.

hrant's picture

Maybe the friendship had always been one-sided, hence unfit to bear the requisite trust.

Anyway I've already said so much about this on Twitter, the prospect of engaging here with no character limit is too exhausting!

hhp

Special-K's picture

Wow - $10. It looks like Hoefler really duped Frere-Jones, especially on point 26:

26.
In January 2004, Hoefler and HTF's attorney Frank Martinez presented Frere-Jones with a Sale and Assignment of Type Fonts that transferred the Dowry Fonts to HTF. Frere-Jones signed this agreement in March 2004; he was not separately represented by counsel. The sale was for nominal consideration of $10 and Frere-Jones, who had left Font Bureau, moved to New York and actively worked to build HTF, all in reliance on the 50-50 partnership agreement, considered signing the document a ministerial act as part of his performance of the original bargain with Hoefler.

George Thomas's picture

@hrant -- What should be said, should be said here. There are some who don't do Twitter.

hrant's picture

True.
I guess I'll start off with the best joke I've managed to come up with:
Jonathan took "Dowry Fonts" too literally.

hhp

Bert Vanderveen's picture

This is very sad. And very recognizable — the same happened to me 20 years ago. My ‘friend' did the business side of our agency and I created. Turned out to be a very succesful combination, the company made loads of money, which my partner did not want to share. In an effort to clarify the situation I offered to bill my hours, which was accepted initially. After the first invoice things went really sour and I left and started my own agency. A friend lost and a lesson learned.

We don't know all the ins and outs of this, but I think that the creative input of Tobias merits more than being called ‘employee'.
So I am rooting for him.

George Thomas's picture

Tobias being called "employee", after having been referred to publicly as "partner" is strictly lawyer-talk. It's an effort to devalue the worth of his lawsuit. Par for the course for most lawyers.

Unfortunately I too went through something similar years ago so I know very much how he feels. He has every bit of my sympathy.

jaylangly's picture

@hrant ha! Well "Tobias and Jonathan's Excellent Adventure" didn't end so well did it.

By the way does the fact that Frere-Jones is suing for $20 mil mean that H&FJ is worth $40 mil? The New York Times seem to think so. And anyone dare to speculate on how much revenue and profit that means per year?

bojev's picture

Press Release fromH&FJ website:

considering Tobias Frere Jones "a longtime employee" seems to be the problem

For Immediate Release
17 January 2014
Last week, designer Tobias Frere-Jones, a longtime employee of The Hoefler Type Foundry, Inc. (d/b/a “Hoefler & Frere-Jones”), decided to leave the company. With Tobias’s departure, the company founded by Jonathan Hoefler in 1989 will become known as Hoefler & Co.
Following his departure, Tobias filed a claim against company founder Jonathan Hoefler. Its allegations are not the facts, and they profoundly misrepresent Tobias’s relationship with both the company and Jonathan. Whether as The Hoefler Type Foundry, Hoefler & Frere-Jones, or Hoefler & Co., our company has always been a great place for designers, which is why it’s always been and will continue to be a great place for design.
It goes without saying that all of us are disappointed by Tobias’s actions. The company will vigorously defend itself against these allegations, which are false and without legal merit. In the meantime, we’re all hard at work, continuing to create the kinds of typefaces that designers have come to expect from us for more than 25 years.

hrant's picture

Of course not missing the opportunity to: recruit new temps... uh, I mean employees; and –most of all– sell more fonts (no longer by actually making them though).

hhp

Si_Daniels's picture

>By the way does the fact that Frere-Jones is suing for $20 mil mean that H&FJ is worth $40 mil? The New York Times seem to think so. And anyone dare to speculate on how much revenue and profit that means per year?

As the only publicly traded font company you could look at the Monotype valuation (market cap) vs their revenue and profit and do the math based on a $40M market cap. It probably won't tell you anything but might be a way to pass the time.

Sherri Keller's picture

Wow. I just found out about this on The Verge. It's very upsetting. I think I will be spending the evening in sweatpants, eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs, and watching Helvetica to remember H&FJ in happier times.

"Tobias being called 'employee', after having been referred to publicly as 'partner' is strictly lawyer-talk. It's an effort to devalue the worth of his lawsuit. Par for the course for most lawyers."

Hopefully that won't work out for them. I doubt many companies name themselves after a lowly "employee".

Nick Cooke's picture

"I'm working on it, stop harassing me".
"Sorry, excuse my impatience, you've only taken fourteen years so far".

hrant's picture

I think the actually interesting questions are:
1) How will HTF do without its best type designer?
2) How might FJ [be legally allowed to] leverage what he learned at H&FJ?

hhp

eyeRhyme's picture

Money and equity aside, it seems the height of unfairness that Tobias looses all credit for his superlative work over the last fourteen years, especially the work he brought fait accompli to H&FJ such as Whitney. I know you can’t split the “baby” in a divorce, but Hoefler should not get full credit for some else’s creative work, even if Hoefler considers himself the foundry that commissioned and managed its development/sale.

As many have said, there is a lot of misinformation and he-said/he-did-not-say in the media; but at least the lawsuit brings light to the situation and voice to Tobias’ perspective rather than having this fade to dark without a sound in Hoefler’s favour.

Regardless of written contractual obligations, it seems pretty clear that Hoefler did promise a partnership and then reneged; and he appears guilt free in that “business” choice.

What a crazy contract Tobias signed that prevents someone from working for a competitor for two years! I hope Tobias can release a typeface of his own, as I will do my best to support him. Stay strong; best of luck.

Signed,
Sincerely outraged at something that is none of my business...

hrant's picture

AFAIK all HTF "employees" have that two-year clause in their contracts. The good news: he/they can still publish fonts independently.

Concerning credit: in due course I expect TFJ to declare his role(s) in HTF fonts via his website, which I hope people will point to at every opportunity.

hhp

Rob O. Font's picture

eyeRhyme "What a crazy contract [...] that prevents someone from working for a competitor for two years!"

Ownership does crazy things, I guess.

charles ellertson's picture

Ownership does crazy things, I guess.

Including adopting & helping talented young people whilst maintaining a gruff exterior, like a sad mutt skilled in working with his hands? (Far back as I can remember the aliases)

eyeRhyme's picture

Anyway, I should really stop spending time on this topic.

eyeRhyme's picture

The documents have been removed from the site but the case is still listed as active. Obviously, I have failed in my efforts to ignore this case.

https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/DocumentList?docketId=z9wGsdxLwA...

- edit -

Seems a silly post that I made now, but at first all the links were dead and I thought the case had been closed/settled. I know it’s kind of absurd to pay such attention to other people’s business, but I am rooting for Tobias and hoping that he gets a favorable outcome.

hrant's picture

So now Hoefler is suing the State of NY over the publication of the documents?

hhp

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