Erik Spiekermann's statements re Berthold

anonymous's picture

We were disappointed, but not surprised, that Erik Spiekermann, a noted and respected type designer and author, would knowingly make false and misleading statements regarding Berthold in a public forum.

As such statements affect the reputation of Berthold Types, I am responding with this posting. I attach a letter dated June 3, 2004, to Mr. Spiekermann explaining the actual facts behind the continuation of H. Berthold's type business by Berthold Types. This letter is from Berthold Types Limited's German attorneys because the subject matter involves German law. We arranged for the attached English translation.

Although the letter to Mr. Spiekermann addresses the myths and misconceptions perpetuated by Mr. Spiekermann's comments, I would like to make a few points:

1. Berthold Designers
Mr. Spiekermann states that Berthold Types has no contracts with any of the original Berthold designers even though he is well aware of the agreement with Guenter Gerhard Lange. Mr. Spiekermann, a friend of Mr. Lange, tried to persuade Mr. Lange against working with Berthold Types but failed.

Contrary to Mr. Spiekermann's statement, Berthold Types has agreements with Guenter Gerhard Lange, Bernd Moellenstaedt, Dieter Hofrichter, Orjan Nordling and Prof. Werner Schneider.

--Mr. Lange (at 83) is working on new typefaces for Berthold Types; having completed Whittingham in 2001 and additions to his other typefaces (Bodoni Old Face and Imago). He also has a new typeface yet to be released and has embarked on another large typeface project for Berthold Types. Mr. Lange as artistic consultant is actively involved in future type releases by Berthold.

--Mr. Moellenstaedt has created a new, large typeface family for Berthold Types (yet to be released) as well as preparing additional offerings of Formata.

--Prof. Schneider recently completed and Berthold Types released his Senatus typeface.

--Mr. Hofrichter works on many projects for Berthold's type program and works closely with Berthold Types to insure the continued quality of the Berthold type program. He works directly with GGL on all his new releases.

All of the contracts between H. Berthold AG and the designers specifically stated that when a typeface design falls into the public domain the obligation by Berthold to pay royalities ceases. Berthold Types offered to pay designers nonetheless. Notwithstanding, Hans Reichel chose to release a reworking of Barmeno.

Interestingly, according to H. Berthold's royalty worksheet, Mr. Spiekermann was never paid royalties on an ongoing basis for Berliner Grotesk and LoType.

2. Registration of Berthold's Trademarks
Mr. Spiekermann also implies that any company could simply register H. Berthold's trademarks. This is simply not true.

The Type division of H. Berthold was a separated in October 1991 and the Type assets were "leased" back to H. Berthold by a consortium of banks. The Type division was not a part of the H. Berthold AG bankruptcy in 1993 and was separate from Berthold's other businesses. Berthold Types acquired the type assests (e.g. the trademarks as well as other IP rights -- see the attached letter) through the chain of title through these banks, not through bankruptcy.

Accordingly, contrary to Mr. Spiekermann's statements, over 80 German trademark registrations, and numerous UK and US registrations, were assigned through the "chain of title" from H. Berthold AG to Berthold Types, including the "Berthold in a red square logo" and the "H. Berthold" trademarks.

3. Protection of Berthold's IP Rights
Mr. Spiekermann states that Berthold Types has been "suing dozens of people with frivolous cases which have cost me and other designers and foundries millions of dollars (and I am not exaggerating)."

It's a myth. In fact, Berthold Types has filed only twelve lawsuits two of which were against FSI/FontShop (both for trademark infringement). Mr. Spiekermann cannot provide any basis supporting losses of "millions of dollars." Type is just not that large of a business.

If Mr. Spiekermann wants to debate: Stick to the facts, please.


Harvey Hunt
Berthold Types Limited

Spiekermann_Translation.pdf (91.9 k)

eriks's picture

>If Mr. Spiekermann wants to debate:<

Does one start a debate by sending a letter from an attorney before joining an online discussion?
Not in my book. And i am not going to discuss any more details, as i know that would only result in more threatening letters. As hhp has pointed out: those letters are enough to cause trouble. If there have been "only" one dozen actual court cases, everybody can easily extrapolate how many letters must have been sent.

I will substantiate everything i wrote, but not in a public forum because i don't need any more letters from Chicago. This forum is for open discussions. Preceding a posting by legal action does not qualify as a contribution.

Draw your own conclusions.

titus n.'s picture

dear mr. spiekermann, you are perfectly right:

>This forum is for open discussions

so please keep it like this. dont let yourself be frightend away by some advocat. we have to fight corporate censorship, whether it concerns our media or information about the behavior of a, at least suspect, type foundry.
am i wrong, when i guess that someone with your reputation doesn't have to fear much, as long as he stays in a legal area?

und sch

dan_reynolds's picture

I am happy to see that the president of Berthold has posted on this forum. Although, I must agree with Mr. Spiekermann and the others here: posting a response on this forum would have been a more polite first step than having an attorney draft a letter and send it to him first.

I think that the public exchange of opinion over the internet is one it's biggest perks. While it is obvious that Mr. Spiekermann's opinion of Berthold is not a positive one, I do not think that his statements were libelous or defamatory. (He is certainly entitled to his opinion, and he is also entitled to propogate it politely) Also, we are only looking at a few short posts on an online forum. I think, if someone with Mr. Spiekerman's gravitas in the type community wanted to go to war with Berthold, he easily could. And he wouldn't need do it via banter on an online forum. Berthold is certainly aware of this. I don't understand their ultra-protectionary, overtly legal-feeling reaction.

B.Gibbs has an interesting point, too. Monotype, Linotype, FontShop, E+F, and many other founderies all have presences at large type events and activities. Their designers all lecture, too. Is Berthold not doing this because it can't afford the costs? At TYPO Berlin, the Managing Director of Linotype, talking about piracy protection, said that the best way to prevent piracy is through technological and design innovation.

He didn't say that the best method was sending out cease-and-desist letters.

I wonder what the impression of Berthold on this forum would be if it had spent the money required for its 12 lawsuits, or even the legal and translation fees necessary for the letter to Mr. Spiekermann, on product marketing instead?

(However, Mr. Spiekermann, it is well-known that Linotype and many other foundries do file law suits to protect their work from piracy. I am assuming that FontShop does this as well. Can you tell me if cease-and-desist letters are common in our industry? Berthold may or may not have sent out too many, but how many are sent out by their competitors?)

hallo Titus! sch

hrant's picture

Titus, unfortunately being legal offers only partial protection. Being inconspicuous is much more effective. :-/


hrant's picture

I was talking about public discussion. And your anonymity helps prove my point.


titus n.'s picture

gorod - russian for city.

hrant, unfortunately you are right. but being inconspicous doesn't have a positive impact on the situation, more likely it makes it even worse, letting (in this case) corporations be successful with their scare-tactics.

"there can't be a revolution in germany, because for that purpose, you'd have to step on the lawn." (very free translation)


hrant's picture

No, it's more effective than being legal in avoiding cease and desist letters.


titus n.'s picture


refusenik's picture

[...snipped legal eagle dung...]
Here's the correspondence:

If it weren't so depressingly sad, you'd have to laugh at the cheek of it all.

Sure, we need rules, but it's pretty obvious that lawyers are part of the problem far more than they are part of the answer - especially in the US.

William Berkson's picture

I find it striking that all the complaints here of abusing the law to intimidate small foundries or exploit designers are against Berthold, and not against Adobe or Linotype or FontShop or Fontbureau. This makes me suspect-I have no knowledge-that there is some foundation to the complaints, even though some may be not sound.

If Berthold wants to make their case in the court of type-world opinion, they had better explain why so many people seem to be angry with them in particular.

dezcom's picture

The point of this thread is to discuss publically the difference between intelectual property rights of the designer, copyright infringement, and bullyism. This thread is not a forum to discuss Hrant or his already well documented political feelings. Propaganda extremists of all persuasions often use a cheap trick to diffuse criticism and point blame at some convenient scapegoat. Their point is to swing the conversation to something else to divert attention and replace it with an attack on either the original source or to dump on anyone close enough. Willie Horton was used this way in the Dukakis campaign. The Jews in the 30s were used this way to take the heat away from the new Nazi government.
The ploy always involves a nameless heckler to act as a distraction and keep everyone from going back to the real issue.

How about if we just ignore the heckler(s) and confine discussion to the original intent of this thread and not respond at all to the heckler?
(I'll bet that I am the next victim, within seconds of my posting this)

dan_reynolds's picture

In my opinion, this issue has nothing to do with the Nazis, Jews, or the second World War. These are not only off topic additions/comments, they could also poison discussion to the extent that Berthold and/or Mr. Spiekermann would no longer respond to the points discussed above.

I would really, really, like to hear from Mr. Hunt, and hear his opinion about Berthold's opinion in the design community. Perhaps he thinks that we are a bunch of nuts, and taht our opinions are not representative. Perhaps he even has sales figures to back that up! I don't know. But I would really like to know...

I would also like to hear how many lawsuits FontShop has filed, or something similiar, to use as a point of comparison. If FSI has filed 24 lawsuits in the same time period that Berthold filed 12, that says something. If they filed 2, that says something else.

Hrant, we all know your opinions about the US Government, and its legal system. In some respects, you are right, especially when it comes to Type and its protection. EU courts offer type designs and foundries much more protection, I think.

However, bashing the US court system, is not so relevant to this topic, I think. Many of the lawsuits in discussion were filed in European courts, so the US and its benefits/fallacies, play little effect.

Also, I think that "Trademarking" something is more of an international process now than a national one.

Again, lets talk about Berthold. Perhaps they really are the demon of the type world. Perhaps we are mistaken in our opinion. I don't think that we will learn anything about these questions from discussing the ideals of democracy, or the prelude to the Holocaust.

(As I side note, I'll bite that I am very interested in talking about democracy in general, the US court system in particular, or even the treatment of Jews by the Nazi government from 1933 to 1945! But I'd rather do it in another thread, preferably one under General Discussion.

hrant's picture

> I would really, really, like to hear from Mr. Hunt

Yes. Otherwise one might be excused for thinking the worst, including that this was just an effort at spin control, at silencing the calls for people not to buy Berthold fonts, or maybe even a means to entrap people and sue them for libel. I hope those assumptions would be all wrong, but certainly the first step towards that would be cogent replies to our questions.


petra's picture

In answer to Dan's question:
FontShop International filed a lawsuit against Brendel for pirating FontFonts using different names; we won the case thus establishing copyright protection for fonts under German law.This was a few years ago.
We have never filed a law suit because of name issues. I remember one instance where we asked another foundry to change the name of their product as it was identical (not similar, IDENTICAL); we did so politely without threats (real or implied) though with the help of a lawyer. If there were more instances, I cannot remember but they would have been handled the same way. We do send cease&desist letters, mainly to internet providers who host pirate sites.
Petra Weitz, FontShop International

hrant's picture

> Perhaps that is why Erik Spiekermann will not respond in this forum.

Nah - it's probably the same reason anonymity is rampant here: avoiding being sued.

> The worst that you can say is that Spiekermann exaggerated

Or the best you can say is that maybe he delved to the heart of the matter, beyond the legalistic worminess.


dezcom's picture

What is a reasonable and fair policy for a foundry?
-Fairness to the designers who developed their products and their reputation in the market place?
-Fairness to the customer both in the quality of their product and in the honesty of their business dealings?
-Fairness to their workers and owners to make a fair profit and provide a fair wage?
-Fairness to their competition (no matter how small) to not use bullying tactics and frivolous litigation as a means of eliminating potential competition?

I just throw these out as questions, not as proclamations of truth. I would be interested in having anyone with a real name respond and help define what would be the qualities that customers and designers (sometimes one and the same) would admire in the type world. This would apply to we designers as well. We too have a responsibility for fairness.


eriks's picture

> Perhaps that is why Erik Spiekermann will not respond in this forum. <

No, it is not. It is much simpler. but going into it may cost me a lot of money in lawyers' fees again. The officers of FontShop International are restrained from discussing certain legal issues. This goes back to a certain foundry in Illinois selling fonts but keeping the money due to some small legal clause in the contract. The licensor in Berlin had to pay the original designers, of course, plus lots and lots of lawyers' fees. This is where me mentioning seven digits came from. While i am not an officer of FSI. but simply a shareholder, that said outfit by the lake is very trigger-happy and even has a family member who belongs to the legal profession, making it easy to issue writs and all manner of legal proceedings which usually require at least a reply by another lawyer, in English. And that costs money, lots. Most of the suits are frivolous: there is a typeface called Signata. There is another face called Signa, the 2 look not a bit alike, but a letter was written asking to change that name as it would infringe upon the rights of that foundry by the lake. Which itself has another font named Signal which apparently cannot be confused with Signata, while Signa can.

FSI has pursued pirates, people who simply copy FontFonts and offer them under a different name. If someone offered a font named Unite, i wouldn't give a damn, as long as it wasn't a copy of my own FF Unit. The people who couldn't tell one from the other would never spend money on a font anyway.

And about the designers who now work for a certain...:

They're all people in Munich who used to work for B and seem to have no choice in order to protect their investment. And some are simply blind to what's going on because they don't want to see 50 years of their lives going down the drain.

And why would a certain gentleman not appear at typo events? Because he cheated and still cheats designers out of their money, and they all know it and let him know that they know.

And i do know what goes on at B in C, as i do know what has been going on at B in B since the mid-60s. I designed most of their literature, reworked the logo and the corporate design in the 80s, made my first typefaces for them, wrote a book for them and was friends with their designers, managers and technicians here in Berlin.

dan_reynolds's picture

One of my professors was a young type designer with Berthold in the 1980s. Her take on the reason that Berthold died was that its marketing focus was all wrong.

She said that, while Linotype and Monotype, as well as newer foundries, began marketing their new, digital type directly to designers, Berthold insisted on marketing primarially to traditional buyers of type, i.e., the same sort of people who bought film fonts, DTPers, printers, etc.

Linotype and Monotype survived the 1990s by working with other companies in the tech. sector, and buy selling directly to the customer (although they were both[?] bought by other, larger companies

hberthold's picture


As you recall there was a business dispute between Fontshop USA (a Fontshop distributor not a foundry) and FSI Fonts und Software GmbH, and your remarks seem to refer to that.

The dispute was resolved in the form of a Settlement Agreement that FSI insisted to be confidential. Anyway, you address something which is not related to Berthold and does not matter in this context at all.

Further, you after all should be aware of the terms of the agreement. If fulfilled the designers should have received their money which as you know was not millions of dollars. I fulfilled my part.

For sake of respect, please defer from insulting Mr. Lange and Mr. Moellenstaedt. And, just for clarification. The designer contracts relate to old and new typefaces.

Finally, Berthold offered and still offers a contract to anybody who had original designer agreements with H. Berthold AG.

Harvey Hunt

hrant's picture

1) You cited 5 designers with whom you have a valid business relationship. How many other designers are represented in your library? How would you describe the relationship with the rest?

2) "Berthold Types has filed only twelve lawsuits". May we please know how many "cease and desist" and other what might be informally called "pre-lawsuit" letters you have sent out?


BTW, for reference: During their sue-happy years, Emigre filed far fewer than 12 lawsuits (my guess is 2-3), but they still managed to acquire a negative reputation (in the "social" sphere at least). But to their credit, they recanted.


hberthold's picture

If you are the "real" Albert Boton then you are aware of our correspondence. Please click on my name and send me an email directly.

As far as the ATM bundle Adobe had a five+ year royalty free period (as part of the advance it paid to H. Berthold AG) and during this period it "bundled" many of the Berthold typefaces.

After this period expired Adobe primarily stopped bundling the Berthold typefaces.

Harvey Hunt
Berthold Types

fontcity's picture

Dear friends,

My sad story is published on

I'm not intended to discuss this topic more.
Last Fall I have sent a letter to Electronic Frontier Foundation (
This letter is all I want to publish on given respected forum.
One my Italian friend wrote me:
"Unfortunately the law is on Berthold's side, but what we need is not a lawyer, actually, we need a popular insurrection in the community of designers, it's time to stop this kind of "terrorism".
I think this is the only thing to do. Maybe it will not work, but at least it will put our colleagues in a position where they will need to choose, make a decision: to go with or against Berthold."
I think we have not to serve for laws and courts, but the judgement's goal is to serve for people, for community.
Thank You all.


Dear Sirs,

My name is Igor Shipovsky. I'm a national of Russia.

A year ago I started selling my products (digital typefaces) with the, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, USA). In August, 2003 I received a complaint from another American company - Berthold Types Limited (Chicago, Illinois). Ms Melissa M. Hunt alleged that the names of my web-site and my fonts do infringe their registered trademark CITY.
My web-site is named ''. My fonts are named after Russian cities: 'City of Moskva' (Moskva is Moscow in Russian), 'City of Khabarovsk', 'City of Tsaritsyn', etc.
Ms Hunt alleged that Berthold has registered the TM "CITY" and that my fonts names are a 'colorable imitation' of this TM.

I strongly oppose this position:
- I suppose the word "city" is a generic term and is not a particularly strong TM. Moreover, I am a national of Russia and Berthold has no registered TM in Russia.
- My fonts are performed in an original graphical manner and the whole line of typefaces has its own unique style. There cannot be any confusion between my fonts and the ones of Berthold company.
- Moreover, I use the word "city" in its original lexical meaning, in an illustrative and descriptive way only. This word is a part of a single whole concept I create to present my products. I have created my own unique style including typefaces (the character shapes), their names, description texts, music, animation, pictures, color palette and so on. I invented the new word 'FONTCITY' for naming my web-site.
- I understand, that the names 'Moskva', 'Khabarovsk', 'Tsaritsyn' and so on mean nothing to the most of people, not only Americans, but Russians too. I can't delete or substitute the word "city" without distortion of the names' sense.
- I can't name my fonts in Russian because there are certain rules requiring to use the numbers and English letters only for this purpose.

As I know, many companies and persons were urged to change the names of their fonts by Berthold. All of them do not accept the accusations but to avoid possible costs of litigation had to follow instructions from Berthold.
Here are the links to their stories: - the victims list - Berthold vs Jamie Nazaroff - Zang-o-fonts: "The Schoolyard Bullies Never Go Away" - Berthold vs Nick Curtis - Berthold vs Cape-Arcona ('s forum) -'s forum;action=display;threadid=196;start=0 -'s forum

Recently my American partner, the, Inc. decided to suspend selling my fonts.
I believe Berthold's actions constitute unfair competition and abuse of intellectual property rights. They are filing lawsuits against small-sized companies and independent font developers worldwide.

I have no money and possibility to file a lawsuit against Berthold. However I am firmly convinced that Berthold isn't right. Your organization is well-known for protecting legitimate rights of consumers and businesses alike in the digital age.
I would appreciate any kind of assistance or guidelines concerning the matter in question.

You can find more information on my web-site:

Thank You.
Igor Shipovsky.

aluminum's picture

Igor has convinced me that there's nothing good about Berthold. Their business model seems one built solely on legal scare tactics.

Granted, the USPTO is to blame as well by allowing such inane TMs as 'city'.

Hopefuly Berthold will learn that them being right/wrong in the legal sense really has nothing to do with their standing in the community.

dan_reynolds's picture

Don't buy Berthold. Such scare tactics don't deserve our financial support.

It is a pity, Mr. Hunt, that you have managed to even retain five of your predecessor company's collection of designers. Somehow, I suspect that they are not aware of all of your actions.

Mr Schneider, at least, has type we can buy through more reputable foundries. I don't know about any of the other four...

hrant's picture

> we need a popular insurrection in the community of designers

It would have to go much deeper than that.


Thomas Phinney's picture

Be wary about citing anything on Luc's pages (e.g. as evidence. In my reading of his "information" on Berthold I saw several statements that were simply untrue. I can't really comment on the Berthold-specific stuff, but one side example on the same pages: it says that Adobe makes clone fonts with published "compatibility lists." This is simply an outrageous lie.

I am neither defending nor commenting on the Hunt's actions, just saying that it can be hard to get the facts straight when one uses fanatics as sources of information.


hrant's picture

Everybody has imperfect insight and information - and yes, Luc maybe more than average. But you could see that as a result of his warm heart and copious output. "Fanatic" is certainly way off - he simply cares a lot, and that's high on my list of Good Things.


dezcom's picture

Here Mr. Phinney represents his employer and therefore cannot speak as freely for himself as the rest of us because that might be construed as coming from Adobe. I don't blame him for that and I appreciate truth coming from anyone and everyone since I have no way of knowing who the honest ones are. I don't know about the Adobe "compatability lists" and have never heard of them prior to today.
There does seem to be a great deal of at least sentiment, if not evidence, that the once proud name of Berthold has now fallen to the level of vicious predator. It would seem that Berthold should be forthcoming and lay ALL of the truth on the table very soon if it wants to have any chance to redeem itself in the eyes of the community which not only buys but specs and recomends type faces to the world. Typographers, type designers, art directors, graphic designers, and publishers are the gatekeepers of type purchase. If many of them boycott any single foundry, it can have a large impact on their profits. We have many alternative suppliers to choose from and are within our rights for any reason to use and recomend (or not recomend) any typeface or vendor. Berthold may have legal means of preventing others from naming fonts to their liking and not paying designers for their work but there is no law that says we MUST use their products if we choose not to. No company can survive abusing their own clients.


hrant's picture

> do you really think that a few bad words on the internet are going to make any difference

But then why would he bother showing up here?
If it's not spin-control, is the alternative not worse?...


dezcom's picture

There were enough empty seats on the busses in Selma several years ago to make a large economic impact on racist bus companies

dan_reynolds's picture

I just can't believe that Berthold spends millions promoting its fonts. Protecting, perhaps, but if it spent millions on promotion, I think that we would be aware of it.

A typographer boycott could make a difference. I don't think that your average computer user is a Berthold customer (I don't think that the average computer user buys any fonts directly).

johnbutler's picture

This thread is becoming unnecessarily surreal. Please stop reflexively invoking the Holocaust and Civil Rights Movement and just address the issue at hand. Can we do that, please?

dezcom's picture

>I don't think that your average computer user is a Berthold customer (I don't think that the average computer user buys any fonts directly).<
That's seems true Dan. The average computer user only uses the fonts that come bundled free with other software or operating system. The concept of buying type is pretty much tied to the design and publishing industry. Corporations use what their design/branding consultants recomend. If you look at advertising by type houses, you can see it is tailored to the same crowd. Ads are placed in the design trade mags with lots of sponsorship of organization events like AIGA or TDC. You don't see type ads placed with broad market strategies in Newsweek or Fortune. Adobe most likely places ads for their products with broader market appeal, like Acrobat, in many more venues than its type collection. Type houses are smart buniness men/women for the most part. They know who the gatekeepers are and would not waste money placing ads in unproductive markets.

dan_reynolds's picture

Chris, this is exactly my point. I don't think that Berthold actually does advertise. And (Thomas/Simon?) I don't think that they license their fonts for font bundling anymore, either.

To me, this seems like two unwise business decisions.

I think that Berthold's sales probably come through AG, and its fame and reputation. All of the trouble recently on Typophile came about because some posters recommended not buying AG from Berthold. This must have been seen as threat enough by Mr. Hunt; in any event it seemed to have ruffled his feathers enough to pay his lawyer and translator to write a stupid letter to Erik Spiekermann. We all know how much lawywers charge by the hour.

Well, what if we just didn't buy AG from Berthold anymore. It isn't like the world isn't full enough with similar and/or better typefaces anyway... we could just recommend to all of our clients that they should use (insert your favorite Helvetica/Grotesk style here) instead, because, quite frankly, they should not give their money to a man like Mr. Hunt.

Most media buyers/clients won't care one way or another, I suspect. But designers can make a (small) difference. This would, in the grand scheme of things, be a small difference, but it would improve our little sector of the market.

dezcom's picture

>Please stop reflexively invoking the Holocaust and Civil Rights Movement and just address the issue at hand. Can we do that, please?<

I am sorry that you personally find the mention of certain topics troublesome. I did not mean to offend you or anyone else. I respect your right to an opinion and to freedom of speech.
I personally feel that the "issue at hand" IS bullyism and feel that historical references to painful events as analogies to this typographic fair treatment situation is valid and to the point.


hrant's picture

> just address the issue at hand.

Yes, why don't you, John? All you've been doing lately is metadiscuss.

> It isn't like the world isn't full enough with similar and/or better typefaces anyway

It's just a damn shame about Poppl's stuff.


dezcom's picture

Several years ago, I purchased all of the Poppl fonts Adobe had to offer. Some have the "BE" designation

johnbutler's picture

Well, since you're asking...

Because I personally have nothing valuable to offer this discussion. I have never done any business with the Hunts, never bought any fonts from them. The last Berthold fonts I bought were through Adobe before the final Berthold liquidation. (Poppl-Laudatio, Poppl-Laudatio Condensed, Berthold Bodoni Old Face, still my favorite Bodoni.) The Berthold Library is one of the finest in the world. I wish I could in good conscience buy more. I've wanted to buy Post-Mediaeval for years now.

I prefer to hear from people like Prof. Spiekermann, Boton, Jaeger et al, who have been dealing with this aftermath for the past several years and have some personal stake in this. Very personal. I find I don't always have to talk, Hrant. Sometimes it's more useful simply to stay out of the way and listen.

Thomas Phinney's picture


Adobe used to license and re-sell about 50 Berthold typefaces, but stopped doing so about five years ago (more or less).

In all our licensing arrangements, we pay royalties to one party. If they in turn owe royalties to somebody else, that is between those two parties.



dan_reynolds's picture

Bitstreams clones are not illegal! In the 1980s, Bitstream licensed the entire Linotype library for sale. However, their agreement with Linotype only allowed them to sell the designs, not the names themselves. So, Bitstream had to come up with its own naming system. Swiss and Helvetica were therefore the same design, just with different names. This was not illegal or immoral at all. Linotype, and its designers, got paid. Since then, Bitstream has gotten a different license, which also allows them to name the Linotype fonts correctly. (I think that this is all true)

Hrant could perhaps make legal Poppl revivals. As most of us know, only Typeface names (and their digital outlines) are trademarkable, except in Germany. In Germany, the DESIGN of a font is also protected by a patent, as long as that patent has been officially registered in Germany. These design patents expire after 25 year, and can never be renewed. The names and the outlines can be renewed, though.

So, if Hrant makes new drawings based off of a Poppl design that is over 25 years old, doesn't reference Berthold's actual files, and names it something totally different, he could legally sell that font as a revival. He could also patent the font and its design in Germany, and have the legal protection of thh German courts behind him when Berthold eventually would sue.

But that would be a suit that Berthold would lose, in any court, anywhere. That would be a fun day.

dezcom's picture

It seems all of my Poppl fonts were TOC but here is an example of floppies. The top 2 (Imago & Formata) are Berthold fonts under the "Exclusiv" label but in the Adobe collection. The Walbaum does not have the "Exclusiv" designation, only Adobe (it may be that it is just older). I include the Adobe Caslon as an example of typical Adobe labeling as a comparison. I also have Baskerville, AG, and BE Garamond on TOC but have purchased nothing else of Berthold since. But that is only because they had nothing else that I wanted and that may still be the case.

dezcom's picture

>In all our licensing arrangements, we pay royalties to one party. If they in turn owe royalties to somebody else, that is between those two parties. <

Thank you Thomas. I guess you would have no way of overseeing any supplier's outside dealings anyway.

Sorry to have pryed you away from that wonderful new baby of yours! Please give her a squeeze from my wife, daughter, and me :-)

hrant's picture

> Not going anywhere.

The point is they apparently don't agree with you, since they started this thread! Get it? Unless the truth is even worse.

> Bitstream

Bitstream isn't in Berthold league, not by a long shot. Not to those of us who care about decency.


> Because I personally have nothing valuable to offer this discussion.

I wasn't talking about this thread, but your overall participation. Lurkers are one thing, people whose only participation is to complain about the participation of others are quite another.


> that would be a suit that Berthold would lose

But the point is it wouldn't get to a court: the lawdogs would intimidate the individual - sort of like at Abu Ghraib.


> I haven't seen anyone claim they broke any laws.

Because that's not the friggin' point.


hrant's picture

Your history is selective, and in places revisionist. And this isn't about companies stealing fonts from each other, it's about corporations intimidating individuals. You're just using Bitstream as an excuse to justify [other] bad behavior, to distract*. And speaking of "relative ethics", when William Garth of Compugraphic was asked how the newly formed company would build a font library, he replied "in the usual manner"**, which basically meant swiping - but the point is that so many companies did that (including ATF, Enschede, and so many more), people -unfortunately- mind it less. What people are complaining about in this thread is bullying, and to many of us that's a greater violation of the social fabric. Focus, please.

* And/or maybe vent (see below).

** See the Romano article in issue #46 of APHA.

Again, to re-focus:
> I haven't seen anyone claim they broke any laws.

What you have to get is that this is not about legality, but ethics. Sometimes you seem to get that important distinction, but when it's convenient you squirm around it. Which of course is typical of anonymous participants, since they have nothing to loose. On the other hand, as long as somebody like me is around, they still won't get away with the spin, so the best way to describe your participation here is "venting". But don't worry, you're not alone.


hrant's picture

> I thought the whole point of the thread was ....

To be fair I guess the point could be different for each of us. But to me -and I think to many others- the main point here isn't about stealing, it is about bullying. Most of the complaints above have nothing to do with stealing anything, except of course if you count human dignity.

That said, in fact I do make a huge distinction between stealing from individuals versus companies. One of the worst things about capitalism is that it treats companies as entities deserving more respect than individuals.

> they are all going to do their best to protect their work from others

Bull. Decent people draw the line this side of decency, the rest don't. Which isn't to say that line is set in stone, not at all. But some cases most everybody can agree on, and it is those that need to be addressed first, obviously. You're simply clouding the issue. And since we don't know who you are, we have every reason to believe you're just a spin doctor.

> Exactly my point with Bitstream.

Don't distract with more Bitstream stories. What they did was a (sad) norm of sorts. This is not. Furthermore, in the past few years Bitstream has done more good things (like recanting on their disregard of embedding permissions) than most anybody else. While this is an ongoing issue, not a historical one.

It seems you have a pet vendetta against Bitstream (which makes you smell just like another chronic anonyrat Typophile experiences now and again), in which case I'd suggest using a separate thread for venting.


Nick Shinn's picture

From a practical perspective, it makes sense for the small business to avoid litigation.

So the best strategy for a foundry is to give its fonts made-up names, or really obscure names (eg Mrs Eaves -- although that is kinda like Mr Stinky). I'm surprised we don't see more typefaces with Autechre/AphexTwin music-title kind of names.

One doesn't have to be bullied to be intimidated. To my mind, Apple and Adobe's font bundling practice is no different than what the EU recently fined Microsoft for, and an absolutely massive suppression of the market for fonts, both prosumer and professional. But it's unlikely that any government is going to go after a company for dumping fonts. I mean, it's only fonts, duh. And I'm certainly not going to sue them!

As for Bitstream's marketing clout, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
I know from personal experience that big CD collections of legacy and back catalogue fonts reduce the need for companies to buy fresh fonts. Many times I've had art directors say "Sorry Nick, I recommended your typeface, used it in a comp, even, but they have the Adobe/Bitstream collection, and want to use something similar from that".

So I'm 100% behind Bitstream's initiative of including a "sampler" of fonts from a variety of independent foundries, as part of the Type Odyssey CD, and glad to be represented.

zeetree's picture

Bitstream is certainly worthy of discussion - but in a thread of it's own. This thread is generally about Berthold Types tactics that some have serious issues with. If it's kept on task and civil, then we can reasonably continue to expect input from all sides from the Hunt's to the Boton's and the Spiekerman's. When the discussion is kept civil, I strongly believe that a broader scope of participants will engage. And that will make a thread like this much more educational as opposed to polarizing.

It's tricky to keep it on the subject for sure, but vitally important for the value of a reasonably objective overview of the full story.

As one example, I for one would still like to know (from either the Hunt's or a first-hand source) if Gertrude Poppl made an agreement for the Poppl types that Berthold now distributes - including Nero.

As another example, I would like to know why the Hunt's registered the trademark for the name "Renner" having to do with typefaces (and subsequently let the trademark lapse a few years later).

hrant's picture

And I would like to know the answer to my two questions. And if they go unanswered, I'd like to know what people think the reason(s) for that might be.


hrant's picture

> So what's the point in focusing on Berthold?

Ask the guy who started the thread.

Discussions need focus - this is this one's.

> *everyone* in the type business is doing similar "bullying"

No. If they were, we wouldn't be seeing this singling out.

> Then write a letter to Berthold in Illinois.

That would be an ever greater waste of time than replying to your rants.
And everybody knows that public dirty laundry gets washed faster.

> Because they are no longer paying attention.

I don't believe that.

> Because it

zeetree's picture

Bouncer (whomever you are), the summation of your points in your recent posts seems to be:

1) That Berthold is not necessarily at fault here in any way OR if Berthold is at fault in any way whatsoever then they are simply following practices that are widespread by others within the industry (albeit not necessarily by all).

2) That the real intention of your posts are to bring closure and/or abandonment to an issue that you do not want to see discussed further (especially by Hrant).

Why? Why not discuss the merits of the Hunt's actions? Why not discuss the pros and the cons of Berthold Types? Why attack the concept of the need for type suppliers decentness towards others? Why oppose the notion of a type supplier being a good neighbor? And why adamantly oppose those hoping that Berthold Types becomes a decent "citizen" of the type world? And why do you make the demand that Typophile is somehow not the legitimate forum for discussion about issues such as these?

Too many unanswered questions are raised by your recent posts. Keep it focused. Keep it enlightening.

Please. Really. It makes a difference.

Please. There is a thread that is important here to others.

Please. Let the thread that Mr. Hunt himself started get back to the issue that he raised all by himself, the issues of Berthold Types actions and behavior.

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