How do I protect my font name?

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

I've been working on a font and I just came up with a great name for it. I've searched the internet and there's nothing alike. I really want to use this name.
I saw in earlier threads that you can't copyright the name. So, what steps should I take? Just hope someone else doen't take it first? Pre-register it at MyFonts?

.00's picture

Copyright does not apply to names, but Trademark does. In the US one would register the Trademark with the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The European Union offers a similar process I would think.

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Thanks James, I'll look into that.

Anyone from MyFonts have any suggestions?

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Jean Paul:

I don’t work for MyFonts but in my opinion this is something they cannot deal with: even if you can pre-register your font (which I don’t think is even possible), this is not going to protect you against someone else using “your” name. MyFonts is a commercial website, not a government office.

If you want to protect the name, you must go to the EU Trademark Office. According to http://oami.europa.eu/ows/rw/pages/CTM/feesPayment/feesPayment.en.do, the fee to be paid is 900 euros if you file online. It is valid for ten years, and then you must renew it (1350 euros). It must be a very good name indeed.

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Hi Christobal,

Thanks for the info. I'll check out the link.

I find 900 euros to be a lot of money for just a name (but then again, it's only 90 euros a year)... I don't know if it's that good ;-) I think I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope no-one else thinks of it too. Glad I didn't mention it here! (Though I trust every one of you!)

ralf h.'s picture

Note that EU trademark would only be valid in European countries and only for the classes you have registered. Someone could still register it in the US and prohibit the distribution with US retailers such as MyFonts.

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

Also note this: I am not really informed about the European legislation, but I understand that even if you finally release the font with MyFonts or any other distributor, the name won’t be protected unless you trademark it, so someone else might copy it (or change it a bit, if that makes any difference) and upload a new design with “your” name.

Nick Cooke's picture

Don't worry about it - just put it out there.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

JP, you being Dutch and European, there is a cheap alternative: you can register an idea with the BBIE Benelux Bureau voor Intellectueel Eigendom, at their site:

http://www.boip.int/nl/ideeen/actionIdepot.html

That will give you something to fall back on in case there is a dispute about the copyright of that name, in future…

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

I didn’t know that, Bert: in many places the ideas cannot be registered, only the materialization of the ideas. Good to know there are exceptions. Thanks!

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Well, this form of registration is not one that offers a lot of protection - it just establishes the fact and the moment that one has registered an idea (sketch, image, words, whatever). Which, of course, can come into play when there is a dispute and litigation…

I like the fact that it is a lot cheaper than other forms of 'protection' and is a more viable alternative to sending yourself a registered letter and keeping that safe somewhere… : )

Robert Trogman's picture

Copyright the Name in the USA first

Bloodtype's picture

One of the few useful things I learnt in school (from my economics teacher): if you write down the name, and usage etc, then seal it in an envelope, stamp it and send it to yourself, then you have a free copyright/ trademark of sorts, providing you don't open the envelope until the time comes when you have to prove it (with witnesses).

clauses's picture

Let me reiterate James Montalbano's point: Copyright does not apply to names, but Trademark does. It is two completely different concepts, and they are offered wildly different forms of protection, in some contexts none.

.00's picture

@Bloodtype: What you describe does not substitute for formally registering the Trademark.

When you register a trademark of a font name, or copyright the software code that describes the "typefont" you now have the option to sue for COSTS as well as DAMAGES should the need arise. Failing to register only allows you to sue for damages

.00's picture

You might want to look into this trademark registration service.

.00's picture

Or you can do what I do, and hire carefully trained martial arts students (that you train yourself) to go around the world enforcing your intellectual property. I have to tell you, it works for me!

JamesM's picture

> seal it in an envelope, stamp it and send it to yourself,
> then you have a free copyright/ trademark of sorts...

Unfortunately your economics professor was giving some bad advice there. I've read that there are several problems with that method, including that it's easy to fake (just steam open an old envelope, change the contents, and then reseal it).

The copyright office says "The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration."

Jean Paul Beumer's picture

Thanks for all responses guys!
I did ask MyFonts.com this very same question directly. They kindly replied:

"It is quite rare to register trademarks for font names. As I understand it, the main benefit of registering a font name is that you get triple damages in the event of a violation. For small foundries and independent designers the cost of registering a trademark is unlikely to be cost effective.
All that is generally necessary is to ask us to mark your font name with a TM to signal the fact that you consider it to be your trademark. This is sufficient to establish priority in the use of the name for commercial sale of the font."

So, no cost and no guarantees. Not that I'm cheapskate (although Dutch) but there are not a lot a guarantees in life anyway. And *if* someone does copy the name, I'll consider that flattering.

.00's picture

It is quite rare to register trademarks for font names. As I understand it, the main benefit of registering a font name is that you get triple damages in the event of a violation. For small foundries and independent designers the cost of registering a trademark is unlikely to be cost effective.
All that is generally necessary is to ask us to mark your font name with a TM to signal the fact that you consider it to be your trademark. This is sufficient to establish priority in the use of the name for commercial sale of the font."

I suppose it depends on how seriously you want to protect your intellectual property. I trademark all my font names and formally register the copyright on all of my font software. A TM has no real legal standing.

clauses's picture

In Europe you are better of. As long as you pursue infringements on either an established name, or infringements on your design you are pretty golden. As I understand it, typeface designs are not protected in the US because it was ruled that they constitute 'derivative works', and as I understand it, derivative works cannot be copyrighted. This is partly why typefaces have protected Trademarks (proper), because it is the only properties of a typeface the foundries can protect. Correct me if I'm wrong please.

.00's picture

"Typefont" software code can be copyrighted in the US.
Some type design can be protected via a design patent, but the term of protection is not that long.

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