The Day After the design

yara's picture

I work with a graphic design studio in the middle east, and we have 8 designed and digitised ARABIC fonts.
We have printed a flyer that shows thoe fonts and have presented them to a few clients.
What do we do now? how do we register them? and how dp we protect ourselves? One client has already taken the proofs, digitised them and is planning on using them for a major Arab TV station.
Is their an international law that protects us? can someone help me with the steps and measures to take?

Yara Khoury
Al Mohtaraf Assaudi,
Beirut, Lebanon

andreas's picture

Only a few good attorneys for type design are around. / Frank Martinez / USA / Nassim Kiani / EU -
she spoke at Typo2004 Berlin

1. You can register a trademark (fontname) worldwide.

2. In some jurisdictions the design is protectable too.

3. The strongest protection is the font data itself - its software.

You need a lot of money, time and patience. And even you have all done to protect you fonts, there is no guaranty for success.

The best protection is, to be better and more known than your competitors.

Arabic script fonts need a lot of feature code stuff I think. Right? A script for low resolution, like TV has other technical needs as for print. So if your client has not your experience - I'm sure in the long run you will win. Good Luck.

Si_Daniels's picture

A few ideas. The printed high-res flyer seems to have been the mistake, perhaps promoting the designs online with small un-scan-able samples in the form of .gif

dan_reynolds's picture

This is a very sad story.

Unfortunately, if they digitized a new typeface from your proofs, they may not have violated any laws in your jurisdiction.

In font protection, it seems like every direction you turn, you run into a wall. In many countries, you can trademark the name of a font; but if they give your font a new name, then they aren't neccessarially violating your trademark. Font software can be copyrighted, too, but if someone make new software from an image of your font, then that doesn't violate software copyright law either, if they didn't use your actual computer file to make theirs.

In many European countries, you can get a design patent on the visual design of a typeface. If you got a design patent in the EU, and this TV station broadcasts or does any buiness in the EU as well, you might be able to sue them in EU courts. That's the best that I can think of in terms of legal defense.

I would try out Si's suggestions. Certainly write letters, make phone calls, and complain. Maybe you can at least prevent other designers from working with this company in the future

yara's picture

Thank you very much for your comments. I guess we didn't see it coming; we enjoyed designing arabic typefaces so much that we forgot to protect ourselves. Not to forget the disadvantages of living in the Arab world in terms of copywrite laws and protections...
Will try out your suggestions and keep you posted on what happens.

jmc's picture

What about the Berne Convention?

Doesn't it applies to all intelectual work worldwide?

Well... you know I am not a lawyer.

yara's picture

can one patent an arabic typeface or just simply copyright the design?

hrant's picture

Yara, even in countries with draconian laws your options are pretty limited. And in countries which have more important fights than those relating to Intellectual Property all you can do is appeal to common decency.

Simon's pieces of advice are very good.

But whatever you do, don't let some people discourage you from your culturally-enriching work.


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