Akzidenz Grotesk

iota's picture

Just wondering which foundry's digitisation of Akzidenz Grotesk you consider to be the best.

Linotype or Berthold?

hrant's picture

In the US, it doesn't matter. If you're rich, you can afford a lawyer-army, and you get your way. I wouldn't mind so much, if I didn't keep hearing American tourists complaining about "the bribery problem in the 3rd world". Akhoulsharmoota.


Chris Rugen's picture

Think that's ridiculous? Check this case out.

Windows vs. Lindows becomes Windows vs. Lin

hrant's picture

> [Money is] an international legal language.

Certainly. The problem is that while the rest of the world realizes is wallowing in mud (and has lousy leaders), the US thinks it's doing great! This has the result that social improvement becomes even more difficult. The formalization of bribery (political lobbying, PACs, etc.) is much worse than bribery itself.


Chris Rugen's picture

That part of it seems semi-reasonable, but the part that I find ridiculous is Microsoft's arguement that Lin

hrant's picture

But people can still express their displeasure in whatever way works for them, including not buying stuff from a company they feel is behaving unethically. We live on a small world, and bad behavior is contagious.


hrant's picture

Nigel, where do you live?
It seems you have no idea how the US really works. But maybe ignorance is bliss!

> what is "unethical" or "bad behavior" about protecting valuable intellectual property?

As always, it's not what you do, but how you do it.

> "prior art for Delta" is irrelevant regarding trademarks.

Irrelevant to whom? To the abusive corporation who has the desire and ability to launch a frivolous lawsuit that it knows can't be challenged by the poor slob individual because you have to be rich to go to court to begin with? In the states, the only really good strategy for financial stability is this: don't attract the gaze of the cyclopses. And the cyclopses know this - heck, they set up this decrepit system!


hrant's picture

Nigel, you simply don't know Berthold's history. And the fact that nobody with half a brain will reveal it in public is telling.

> Irrelevant to whether it qualifies to be registered as a trademark.

Who cares. Humans come first.

> perhaps you might be happier living somewhere else.

Not "perhaps", most definitely. But I'm not about to explain my life to you and your ilk.


hrant's picture

So I guess you think I have less than half a brain?
That says more about you than me.

BTW, I would learn to clean sewage before learning about IP.


hrant's picture

> it is essential to protecting intellectual property.

In the same way that cluster bombs are essential to imperialism?


William Berkson's picture

>it is essential to protecting intellectual property

Leaving aside Hrant's raving, my impression that many on these boards do not understand the legal situation with intellectual property rights, which are important to the type business.

As Nigel says, my understanding is that the owner of a trademark is required to sue or risk losing ownership of the trademark. This is perhaps a bad law, but that is the box that it puts the trademark owner in. If all that Berthold is doing is protecting its trademarks, I do not think they can be faulted for that, and people should not boycott them for that reason.

In the US, my understanding is that only the name can be trademarked, and that in general design itself is not protected. The laws do seem to need changing, but Berthold should not be blamed for the box that the law puts them in.

I am not a lawyer, and I do not know about Berthold's business practices generally, but there needs to be some understanding of the problem any digital foundry faces.

Perhaps other owners of digital foundries can comment.

hrant's picture

> many on these boards do not understand the
> legal situation with intellectual property rights

That's secondary. Most people on these boards understand something much more important than the technicalities of IP law - they understand what it is to be decent, and why decency is the central pillar of a healthy society.

Your society favors bastards over decent people. So of course your laws are crappy. Dismiss it as "ranting" if you like, and it might take decades, but the revolution is coming, and heads will roll. If you care about your grandchildren, you will repent as soon as possible.


gianotten's picture

Nigel, you wrote that Linotype no longer delivers the Akzidenz Grotesk. That's right. But nowadays Linotype delivers 4 weights and 4 italics of the Basic Commercial typeface. If you look at www.linotype.com you will be able to read the following sentence: "Basic Commercial font is based on the design for Akzidenz Grotesk, which appeared with Berthold in 1900, designed by type setters whose names have not been recorded, but whose skill cannot be overlooked. This typeface has been popular among groups and movements so diverse as the Bauhaus, Dadaism, and the masters of Swiss typography. It served as an influence for a variety of newer, more anonymous grotesque fonts as well as Helvetica. Basic Commerical font is a clear and objective font whose forms exhibit almost nothing unusual, but which remains both lively and legible".
Basic Commercial is available in OpenType with the better hinting, But also in PS and TT for non-InDesign users.

14056BasicCommBold.pdf (16.0 k)

Thomas Phinney's picture


There is a lot more to the Berthold story than has been discussed here. In my opinion, none of the big stories have been brought up so far. I wish I could talk about it, but even this message is probably more than I ought to say.

I can note that Berthold fonts were formerly available from Adobe, Agfa Monotype and Linotype, and that all of these companies are no longer resellers of Berthold designs.



Thomas Phinney's picture

Wow, you're right. I should have checked on that. I guess AMT had a better ending to the story than the rest of us. So it's just Adobe and Linotype that no longer sell Berthold fonts.


gianotten's picture

Thomas Phinney wrote to Nigel:

William Berkson's picture

Wow, it sounds like Berthold are really bad actors. Is there anywhere on the internet that the 'big stories' are told?

hrant's picture

Ice-T: "Freedom of speech - just watch what you say."

William: well of course not - and that's exactly the point. And the problem of course isn't a single company, it's the system which allows and even encourages companies to behave in this way.


beejay's picture

jumping in late here with a few points

Prior Art, while mostly cited in patent and copyright cases,
can also apply to trademarks.

You can file a trademark as

a) the word
b) the design alone
c) word + design

the patent examiner will check active trademarks
for possible conflicts, thus checking for Prior Art.

In the Berthold/Delta situation specifically, Prior Art, taken literally, is
indeed irrelevant but Prior Use is not.

William wrote "my understanding is that the owner of a trademark
is required to sue or risk losing ownership of the trademark."

Not quite right. It will help you if you can
show a track record of protecting your mark.
But there is not requirement to sue.
It's not about that.
But if you have a trademark that is in jeopardy,
nowadays, you probably are spending your money elsewhere.
On advertising.
That's how you keep from 'losing' a mark from
it becoming genericized.

Take Xerox, Wite-Out, Band-Aid, Velcro and some
others. The owners of these marks take out ads every month in various magazines
(usually Writer-oriented publications) that spell
out proper usage of their marks in print.

Kleenex (TM) brand disposable tissues, etc.

the older brands did not do that ... if I'm not mistaken.
So these brands today can point to a pile of money
spent educating others on proper usage
if the generic nature of their mark becomes an issue.

As far as Berthold, it's interesting to look specifically at the Delta mark's history.

2004-02-17 - Registered - Principal Register

2003-11-25 - Published for opposition

2003-11-05 - Notice of publication

2003-09-22 - Approved for Pub - Principal Register (Initial exam)

2003-08-07 - Communication received from applicant

2003-08-27 - Case File in TICRS

2003-08-07 - PAPER RECEIVED

2003-04-11 - Letter of suspension mailed

2003-03-27 - PAPER RECEIVED

2003-02-03 - Letter of suspension mailed

2002-11-14 - Communication received from applicant

2002-11-14 - PAPER RECEIVED

2002-11-05 - Case file assigned to examining attorney

2002-06-21 - Case file assigned to examining attorney

2001-04-18 - Letter of suspension mailed

2001-02-09 - Communication received from applicant

2000-08-18 - Non-final action mailed

2000-07-18 - Case file assigned to examining attorney

I don't know if this TM just got forgotten when a
sale of the business was happening? I know
nothing about the Hunts, but become more and
more curious to hear the truth.

And I'm not saying that Berthold taking four years to get this
trademark is relevant, just interesting.



beejay's picture

Also interesting ...

February 04, 2003

The Schoolyard Bullies
Never Go Away

In the typographica entry, linked above,
Jamie Nazaroff says he received the letter from
Berthold's attorney Jan. 27, 2003. Delta was not even close to
being a registered mark at that time, according
to the info cut-and-pasted from the USPTO site.

So I really would like to see the actual email
to see whether Berthold misrepresented this fact.


beejay's picture

certainly. but with respect to commencing
trademark litigation it does.

You can send out letters and threaten but
you can't file a suit until you have a
registered mark in hand. That's my understanding.

Which means nothing here anyway as long as Berthold
isn't missrepresenting its marks.... big company vs. an
individual, some threatening letters,
ends things pretty quickly without litigation.

but if Berthold had wanted to sue Jamie, it would have had to wait until
'Delta' became registered
or sue for infringement on the 'Delta Jaeger'
mark only, not the 'Delta' mark.

blah, blah, of course this is boring.
More interesting ... luc's summary, below.


Nigel, do you have some association with Berthold?

And how would you assess the way Berthold is being run, if you know or care to share ...


beejay's picture

fair enough Nigel ... I was told that that was the case for
a copyright, so I assumed that trademarks would be the same. hmmm.

> You can sue without a trademark being registered.

Of course anyone can sue anyone over anything.
But I don't think that's what you are saying.
You're saying that a judge would actually hear a TM case
(and not throw it out) where the plaintiff only has a common
law trademark but not a pending or registered mark.


I would like to learn more if you happen to have a link.



William Berkson's picture


On the Luc site, a lot of Berthold's actions seem to be silly and pointless.

The issue with Baremo and FF Sari, though, seems to me quite reasonable. Sari is in fact a 'new Baremo'and 'New Barem' would be exploiting the reputation of the old which is still evidently owned by Berthold - so it would cut into their mark.

In fairness, you should answer the question about whether you are associated with Berthold.

I agree that people are way too ready to attack anyone trying to protect their IP rights. But Berthold does look silly in some of the warning letters. Do you think I wrong about this?

Thomas Phinney's picture

It would be handy if one could rely on stuff on Luc's site, but I don't feel I can trust even the stuff that seems plausible. In some areas that I do know plenty about, like OpenType, his writing has a lot of material that is simply false, as well as a lot that is misleading or devoid of content (but always full of inflammatory rhetoric). We're talking a major axe to grind.

Of course, if you believe that all corporations are evil, and that there are conspiracies everywhere, then you'll probably find Luc's world view quite complementary to your own.


beejay's picture

Nigel -- The link goes 1000 different directions, but I am
aware of the USPTO site, treble damages, etc.
If you could point to something specific, I'd be grateful.

I'm on a 4-day weekend and need to get
away from the computer, so for now, I'll take your word for it.
Anyhow, clearly, I was mistaken and should learn
more before I make pronouncements. :-)



hrant's picture

> the burden of proof is on the person suing.

That's generally inconsequential, because the bureaucratic weight -that's fostered by the system- causes the case to be resolved in favor of the bastard way before any actual judge* gets involved.

* And where does the judge's paycheck come from, I wonder?

Thomas, don't bundle valid complaints about wanton capitalism with conspiracy theorists and provincial concepts like "Evil". You're playing into the hands of the usurpers.


deh's picture

BJ: You can sue for "false designation of origin" in (US) federal court without having registered the mark: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/15/1125.html. Alternatively, you can sue in state court.

Another advantage of federal registration is that you can opt for "statutory damages" of US$500-100000 instead of actual damages.

eriks's picture

>I think Agfa Monotype, Berthold, and Linotype are doing things the right way. Controlling their product<

I've kept quiet for a long time, but now i have to clear up a few facts.

1. Berthold Types in chicago is not the legal successor to H. Berthold AG

2. Berthold Types has registered most of H. Berthold's trademarks and thus has every right to defend them

3. Berthold Types has no contracts with any of the original designers whose fonts are being sold today; thus effectively stealing from designers like Hans Reichel, who designed Barmeno but doesn't receive license payments for his design. Nor was he allowed to re-issue his own face as New Barmeno. So he had to call it Sari and redraw it extensively, just to be able to publish a typeface he licensed to H. Berthold AG, not Berthold Types (see 1).

4. Berthold Types sues everybody who only gets into the vicinity of one of their trademarks or even imagined marks, for example "super" or even "grotesk". In these cases they just lost, finally. It is absurd to want to claim a trademark for a generic term like Grotesk, just because it occurs in one of their trademarks (Akzidenz Grotesk). Defending this not only cost countless hours but also tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees.

5. They have been sueing dozens of people with frivolous cases. Failing to answer brings about a judgement in their favour; answering cost more money than all these small designers and foundries have. They win not by being right, but by default.

6. They are bullies; it is not about trademarks but about deleting the competition.

7. I could cite many more (and worse) cases which have cost me and other designers and foundries millions of dollars (and i am not exaggerating), but this will probably already make me the target of the next attack.

8. This list doesn't discuss legal matters for their own sake. This list is not called legaphile; it is run by and for people who care for and live by typography.

hrant's picture

Right on. Bravo.
Renewed respect.

> Berthold Types has no contracts with any of the original designers

Not even GGL though?


mga's picture

>>>Do you think the following names infringe?
>>>Rocktus as opposed to Rockwell
>>>Bemtus as opposed to Bembo

How about Universal* versus Univers?

*ie the Bayer face (which I think hasn't been digitised)

dezcom's picture

I guess I will never purchase another font from Berthold. The Naziesque law suits and poor treatment of outstanding type designers have soured the brand for me.


BTW: nice logo Iota

hrant's picture

It's a damn shame they have Poppl's stuff.


hrant's picture

I wonder, which comes first: being famous, or hiding?


eriks's picture

> It's a damn shame they have Poppl's stuff. <

You should ask Poppl's widow why she never signed a contract for her late husbands faces and subsequently doesn't get any royalties. It is one thing offering a contract, but quite another what you write in it. It certainly wasn't acceptable for her.

Joe Pemberton's picture

There are various reasons to avoid the Berthold version, even though it's a solid cut.

anonymous's picture

What has Delta faucets and Delta Airlines got to do with Delta the typeface family. Absolutely nothing. They are all in different goods and servies for trademark purposes.

I would imagine if Jamie had named his typeface Omicron Univers, Omicron Gill, or Omicron Utopia that he would have encountered problems with their respective TM owners.

This kind of misinformation only makes it confusing for designers looking for new names for typefaces.


anonymous's picture

In the U.S. the issue is who has senior rights in a trademark.

A person has common law rights even if the trademark is not registered In the U.S.

In Europe it is more about who has first registered the trademark and not who used it first.


anonymous's picture

In the Microsoft case the Lindows attack on Microsoft is that "Windows" is "generic" and therefore not registerable as a trademark.


anonymous's picture

In response to the original question regarding which cut of Akzidenz Grotesk is the best.

Linotype originally only released four weights in normal width (in a cross license agreement with Berthold per Erik Spiekermann's old post). They are no longer available.

The original Berthold versions have normal, condensed, and extended widths. The choice is obvious.

Joseph Pemberton's comment regarding avoiding Berthold because he does not agree with how a company protects its intellectual property (most of the posts simply do not understand trademark law and why it is essential to protect a trademark) is irrelevant for judging typeface quality.

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture

Of course people can express their own views but what is "unethical" or "bad behavior" about protecting valuable intellectual property?

Hrant, your comment about "prior art for Delta" is irrelevant regarding trademarks. That is why you have Delta Airlines, Delta faucets, Delta typeface etc. All different classes of goods.

Joe's comment about "nobody believes Berthold will suffer a loss in the marketplace" is not the point. If a company lets one person do it, then another will follow and so on until it falls into the public domain.

Escalator, Band-Aid, Asprin, Shredded-Wheat, and Kerosene" were once trademarks. Those trademarks became generic because the corporations that originally owned them did not properly use them, and they allowed anyone to use them improperly.

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture

>As always, it's not what you do, but how you do it.
Yes, but according to the posts they sent "cease and desist" letters so at least they didn't just file a lawsuit without giving notice first. What are they supposed to do if the response is f--- off?

>Irrelevant to whom?
Irrelevant to whether it qualifies to be registered as a trademark.

>To the abusive corporation who has the desire and ability to launch a frivolous lawsuit.
You obviously do not know how the process works. Did you know that "Frivolous" lawsuits are sanctionable. No law firm in their right mind would risk being sanctioned by a Federal judge.

>It seems you have no idea how the US really works.
If you really have such disdain for the U.S. perhaps you might be happier living somewhere else.

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture

>Nigel, you simply don't know Berthold's history. And the fact that nobody with half a brain will reveal it in public is telling.

There was plenty in the previous posts but most of that was simply ignorance of how trademark law works.

Apart from trademark issues has Berthold done anything personal to any of the people in the posts including you?

> Irrelevant to whether it qualifies to be registered as a trademark.
>Who cares. Humans come first.

Then join the Peace Corps. Why are you in this industry?

>But I'm not about to explain my life to you and your ilk.

I wouldn't trust personal things to you either.

Hrant, you certainly have the gift of the gab but you lack substance with respect to intellectual property matters.

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture

>So I guess you think I have less than half a brain?

On the contrary, I just said that you do not understand intellectual property.

>BTW, I would learn to clean sewage before learning about IP.

And they say educated people in the U.S. refuse to do these types of jobs. Bravo Hrant!

Nigel Hamilton

Joe Pemberton's picture

You two lost me back there...

But Nigel, you're totally right when it comes to purchasing Akzidenz Grotesk the clear choice is the Berthold version. (And Akzidenz Grotesk is a great face, without question.)

The folks who bought the Berthold library made an excellent business decision. I just think their practices since then don't make great business sense. Maybe they're protecting their font names, but they're dragging the Berthold name through the mud with their hyper-litigiousness.

I haven't heard of Windows verses Lindows, but I did laugh about the Microsoft verses Mike Rowe (who holds MikeRoweSoft.com). Does MS really think that MikeRowe and his site are going to cause confusion? (Or is it that over time a bunch of Mike Rowe's could take MS' name into the public domain.) If they had a sense of humor they could laugh with the rest of us.

anonymous's picture

>I just think their practices since then don't make great business sense. Maybe they're protecting their font names, but they're dragging the Berthold name through the mud with their hyper-litigiousness.

Joe if Berthold sent Nick Curtis a cease and desist letter and he responded no or simply ignored it is Berthold supposed to leave him alone just because he is a nice guy who looks at things differently?

From the posts Berthold then sued Nick Curtis and he changed the names, This is not bad business sense it is essential to protecting intellectual property.

If you look at Berthold, Linotype and Monotype all the equipment is gone and the only item of value remaining is the intellectual property (trademarks, outlines and copyright). I think you will find that all three companies vigourously protect their trademarks and copyright.

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture


Comparing intellectual property with cluster bombs!

You would be perfect for "Speakers Corner" in Hyde Park, London.

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture


It is still only four weights and the italics were created only recently so call me a purist but give me the original versions from Berthold.

And is Hrant campaigning for the Rush Limbaugh prodigy award? Can't you find a more appropriate website to express your views on repenting and revolution?

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture


Agfa Monotype sells Berthold fonts including the Adobe versions of them.


Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture

A trademark does not have to be registered with respect to trademark infringement. And since Berthold released Jaeger's Delta I think in the 80s they more than have senior rights over Jamie.

Nigel Hamilton

anonymous's picture

>but if Berthold had wanted to sue Jamie, it would have had to wait until 'Delta' became registered

You are wrong on this. You can sue without a trademark being registered.

>More interesting ... luc's summary, below

Luc's article is full of incorrect statements and conclusions it belongs in the Star or National Enquirer.

He also references comments by Fred Nader which speaks for itself.

As far as how I feel that Berthold is being run I think that the type industry is going back to the days when foundries exclusively distribute their own product.

For example only Linotype markets Linotype Univers, Optima Nova, Linotype Syntax etc.

You don't see any of Agfa Monotype's new product (including ITC) in the Adobe Library or through Linotype.

In fact in a recent Adobe's SEC filing there is a lawsuit between Agfa Monotype and Adobe which Adobe claims would have an adverse effect if they lost.

Berthold controls its product although it apears that Agfa Monotype distributes Berthold rather than licensing it as they did in the past.

I think Agfa Monotype, Berthold, and Linotype are doing things the right way. Controlling their product.

And the only reason that I entered this thread is that I keep seeing so much misinformation about trademarks that no wonder the independent type designer gets into trouble if he doesn't know right from wrong. Especially if he follows Luc's positions.

Nigel Hamilton

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