Type Design: Flourishing or Floundering?

Ehague's picture

I'm working on putting together a law review comment topic that will focus on the IP protections afforded to typeface design within various American IP regimes.

If we take it as a given that type design enjoys comparatively little protection in the US (or that these protections are rarely invoked), I'd like your input on the following question:

Is type design prospering anyway? Or is the field arguably a fraction as explosive as it would be were the supposed incentives to create better protected?

Richard Fink's picture

When I have the energy and the time, I try to be a pain in the ass on as many threads and forums as possible. I lost all track of this one, and I wanted to pick up on something Butterick wrote.

(BTW - Love Dezcom's pic. And having grown up in Brooklyn during the era of "Goodfellas", I'm familiar with the Tony Soprano school of dispute resolution. And that's all I'll say about THAT except to say that you couldn't do business in the apparel industry of New York without having to deal with certain kinds of people.)

@butterick

RE: The reasoning in Judge Whyte's comments.

When I first read it, I half bought the notion being promulgated by Adobe. In fact, I spent several hours a few months back with somebody quite into the open source movement, and it came up in casual conversation and HE bought that reasoning, too. (A lot of people active in open-source do so out of purely philosphical or political disposition. I've been suprised at how little the actual details of the law figure in their thinking.)

But Whyte is completely erroneous. And my even half-buying into it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes protectable expression under copyright law.
A big part of the reason, I think, is that the copyright industries spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to obfuscate the issue and frame it to their advantage - it's an ongoing and unceasing political campaign - and so it takes awhile to undo the confusion from that. It effects lawyers and judges, too, obviously. After all, that's where the payoff is.

First, the notion that there is choice in the selection of points is dubious to begin with, but let's let that go and assume there is choice.
Just because there is choice, it does not follow that there is protectable expression. Can you copyright a color scheme? There's choice, right?
Is the choice of route between two destinations - like those chosen by Google Maps and Mapquest - copyrightable? After all, there's choice. (I bet the lawyers DID give that one some thought.)

A failure to connect choice and protectable expression is missing in Whyte's writing. But like I said, he was deciding a case, wrote this and that, and the opinion wasn't published. Like a lot of judges, I think his concept of the technical issues was dim, to say the least.

One of the reasons I write comments in forums - unpaid work - is for the same reason experienced stand-up comics play small comedy clubs for free - to try out new ideas.

And I came away from this thread with the spark of an idea for writing about the law as a technology of sorts. We talk about the "legal system". And where there is a system, there is, at a minimum, a set of interrelated parts working together as a part of an overarching scheme - a technology of sorts. In fact, I've heard lawyers refer to what ordinary people would call "forms" - stuff to be filed with the court to get a certain result - as "instruments". And this helps to strengthen my instinct that it's a line of thought worth pursuing. I'm just wondering now if anybody has ever taken the same tack.

'nuff said.

Nick Shinn's picture

A lot of disciplines borrow techno-scientific terms to impress themselves, and others, with how logical and rational they are.

I'm not sure who you mean by "copyright industries", but it is not just those who produce creative content—copyright is also fundamental to the emergence of packaged goods.

Ultimately every business needs to be able to protect its brand—consider the origin of that term, and the penalty in the Old West for pirating a brand or branded property.

I'm sure you can exploit the metaphor of law-as-technology, because there is a similarity in all human-formulated systems.
For instance, mechanical servo systems and biological ecosystems operate on feedback, and are hence cybernetic.

As John von Neumann, father of game theory, put it, "The territory is not the map."

Richard Fink's picture

@nickshinn

>A lot of disciplines borrow techno-scientific terms
>to impress themselves, and others, with how logical and rational they are.

True. I've certainly seen it. In some cases though, it's not pomp but a linguistic holdover from days of yore.
I believe you can now search through Google Books to find fairly precisely when a particular term first appeared. Amazing.

>Ultimately every business needs to be able to protect its
>brand

No they don't. Why? What's the benefit to them?

>—consider the origin of that term, and the penalty in
>the Old West for pirating a brand or branded property.

So colorful. But, uh, I think you've seen too many episodes of Bonanza.

Trademark did not come about to help business. A trademark might prove helpful if the trademarked item does well. But the trademarked item can just as easily fail, and the trademark won't help you a bit.

No, trademark came about to avoid confusion in the minds of the buying public. It's a public good, not some kind of corporate welfare. And I think it's useful, if sometimes abused. At least it comes with some responsibilities on the part of the trademark holder.

I'm not surprised you present it as something for business, and not the public, though. Like I said, it's amazing what hundreds of millions of dollars a year in spin can do over time. So I forgive you.

(Nick: Nothing to do with this thread, but you're just the man I wanted to speak to about something. Sending you an email shortly. Hoping you'll be able to oblige. :)

rich

Oh yes, "I'm sure you can exploit the metaphor of law-as-technology, because there is a similarity in all human-formulated systems."

Yes, I think there's something, I'm not sure what exactly yet, there.

John Hudson's picture

Rich, yes trademarks exist to avoid confusion in the market, but a trademark is also an asset. It is something that the trademark holder can sell, license etc.; this is why companies defend their trademarks, to uphold their value.

Té Rowan's picture

Copyright industries are those that exist to exploit or by exploiting copyrights.

Rob O. Font's picture

© and ™ here too!? Snakes alive.

Nick Shinn's picture

No, trademark came about to avoid confusion in the minds of the buying public. It's a public good, not some kind of corporate welfare.

The mass market for packaged goods emerged as a system that benefitted both producers and consumers, and in between enabled the advertising industry and boosted mass media exponentially. Trademarking was an integral part of the system, so that a company might advertise in publications distributed nationwide, and have merchants and consumers in every town identify its products.

In 1882 Harley Procter put a wrapper around a bulk product, branded it Ivory Soap, and placed ads for it in Ladies Home Journal, kickstarting consumer culture. Ad revenue dropped the price of magazines, circulation soared, and product shifted. Feedback loop.

I'm not surprised you present it as something for business, and not the public, though. Like I said, it's amazing what hundreds of millions of dollars a year in spin can do over time. So I forgive you.

I appreciate the forgiving mood you've been in recently (noblesse oblige). However, your attribution of my brainwashing is mistaken—my emphasis on the economic genesis of trademarks comes more from being indoctrinated by Marxists at a tender age than from my career in commerce.

quadibloc's picture

Do trademarks benefit businesses, or the public?

I should think both.

If they benefit the public by allowing them to know who is behind the products they buy, then clearly they also benefit the businessman who produces the quality products they prefer, by protecting him from losing business to disguised imitations.

And this is why the law, not just recently, but even at the beginning, treated trademarks as the property of businesses, since it was simplest to leave to the individual business the responsibility of protecting its own trademark.

dezcom's picture

Do trademarks help everyone more or less than no trademarks allowed? Kinda like asking if any imperfect system is better than no system at all.
The devil is in the details either way. Whatever system used will become favorable to the wealthy and powerful as well as the devious and unscrupulous. The rest of us will get a little something out of it and hopefully enough to be better off than with the total chaos of anything goes.
I wonder how these 2 expressions came about? "Who said life was fair" and "Nice guys finish last"

Té Rowan's picture

Not to forget how trademarks seep into the collective conscious. Ya Merkins still fed-ex parcels, don't you, even if it's not always by Federal Express?

We still have willyses and primuses here in Iceland. Willy's Jeep is long gone, but the CJ is still a willys. AFAIK, the Swedish company Primus still makes portable stoves.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Rich: "and the opinion wasn't published"

I was under the impression that the published/unpublished distinction only exists at the appellate and higher levels, not at a regular federal district court. Is this not the case?

But aside from that, I think your comment on why you think Whyte was wrong was the clearest statement you've made on that, after much general objection. I don't think I agree with you, as a typeface consists of hundreds or thousands of such tiny decisions. But it's the most plausible argument I've heard.

Richard Fink's picture

Not sure about the apropriateness of giving the source of this. Let it go at, an attorney familiar with fonts, that's all:

"An unpublished district court opinion is not precedent in that no court is obligated to follow its decision, including other judges in the same district court. You may or may not even be able to cite to it in a brief to the same district court (though sometimes you might because judges in a district court probably know each other well and might be influenced by how their fellow judges ruled).

The citation for Adobe v. Southern Software is this: Adobe Sys. Inc. v. S. Software, Inc., No. C 95-20710 RMW (PVT), 1998 WL 104303 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 2, 1998). This case was not published in the Federal Supplement, or even the Federal Appendix. The first set of numbers after the case name is simply the district court number assigned to the case. The second set of numbers (following the comma) is a citation to Westlaw's database (indicated by "WL"). The parentheses indicates that the decision was issued in the Northern District of California in 1998. (If this case had been published officially in the Federal Supplement, the cite would look something like: Adobe Sys. Inc. v. S. Software, Inc., 50 F. Supp. 3d 100 (N.D. Cal. 1998).) So the case is officially unpublished, though its inclusion in Westlaw's database is usually afforded at least a little influence. But nobody is obliged to follow the decision as precedent. The case is really only important to another court, even in the same district, to the extent that its reasoning is persuasive. And that, really, is the debate: is it persuasive? It does not stand for the blanket proposition that computer fonts are copyrightable throughout the land, as everyone seems to have taken for granted. Computer fonts are not even necessarily copyrightable in the Northern District of California.

Just because a decision is not officially published doesn't mean you can't find it on the internet. There are lots of them out there, and they are useful and informative to many people, but they are not precedent."

Ehague's picture

Note the difference between mandatory and persuasive authority. This gives a fairly good summary:

http://faculty.law.lsu.edu/toddbruno/mandatory_v__persuasive.htm

Also see:
Circuit Citation Rules (Unpublished Opinions)

And that, really, is the debate: is it persuasive? It does not stand for the blanket proposition that computer fonts are copyrightable throughout the land, as everyone seems to have taken for granted.

It isn't mandatory authority, but the reasoning isn't unfounded. (And it has been cited a handful of times over the years according to Westlaw.) It also offers the argument that 57 Fed.Reg. 35 (February 12, 1992) (“Registrability of Computer Programs that Generate Typefaces”) supercedes the previous stance of the Copyright Office that fonts didn't count as protectable software. The language of 57 Fed.Reg. 35 is doesn't seem all that equivocal—

The portion reproduced in Adobe v. SSI:

After a careful review of the testimony and the written comments, the Copyright Office is persuaded that creating scalable typefonts using already digitized typeface represents a significant change in the industry since our previous Policy Decision. We are also persuaded that computer programs designed for generating typeface in conjunction with low resolution and other printing devices may involve original computer instructions entitled to protection under the Copyright Act. For example, the creation of scalable font output programs to produce harmonious fonts consisting of hundreds of characters typically involves many decisions in drafting the instructions that drive the printer. The expression of these decisions is neither limited by the unprotectible shape of the letters nor functionally mandated. This expression, assuming it meets the usual standard of authorship, is thus registrable as a computer program.

Richard Fink's picture

@Ehague

Thank you for the links.

>but the reasoning isn't unfounded.

I'm not familiar enough with what the term "unfounded" means in this context to argue one way or the other. If you want to substitute the words "makes sense", I'm ready to go.

>(And it has been cited a handful of times over the years according to Westlaw.)

What sort of citations? Where and by who and the purpose the citation served makes a big difference. Could you post them here? I don't have a Westlaw account.

>The language of 57 Fed.Reg. 35 is doesn't seem all that equivocal

I'd like to go back and read "The language of 57 Fed.Reg. 35" and I'll get back to you.
It seems like 57 Fed.Reg. 35 and Adobe v SSI are getting mixed together there, and I'd like to separate the two.
Also, policy decisions regarding registrability are exactly that: decisions regarding registrability. It is no guarantee of anything. A valid registration is neither a mandatory NOR a persuasive authority.
Especially since nearly all works consist of protectable and unprotectable elements. How could it mean anything?

The idea that registration counts for something, leads the general public to believe that simply because they can obtain a registration of copyright, the work necessarily has protection. And nothing could be further from the truth.
It's no more protectable than if they had done nothing and saved the fee. The geniuses (or whores, I think it's fair to say) in Congress have imparted protection as soon as the expression is fixed in a tangible form, with no further ado.

This is big point of confusion for a lot of people, and needs to be cleared up. So thanks for bringing it up.

(There's a book on copyright named: Freedom Of Expression by Kembrew McLeod. As an exercise in the absurd, McLeod trademarked the expression "Freedom Of Expression" which appears like this: Freedom Of Expression™ throughout the book.
I don't know about other readers, but it got a laugh out of me every time. [It's a book worth reading if you're into this stuff and you can get it real cheap. Not an A list title.] I just got to thinking about it in relation to the USPTO and registrability. I have the feeling I could get registration for a novel titled The Great White Whale that, outside of the title, reads exactly the same as Melville's book on the same theme. That wouldn't mean much in court would it?)

But I'll check it all out.

Uh, just discovered your link to Citations Rules takes me to a page on the Typophile Wiki section. ??

kentlew's picture

[ I just fixed the Citations Rules link in Eric’s post. I don’t think the shortcut link method likes “https” for some reason. That shortcut has been buggy for a while, anyway. Link should work now. ]

Richard Fink's picture

@kentlew

Thanks.

@ehague

If you'd be so kind, my request for the citations still stands. However, because of time factors - I'd love to argue from all angles - I decided to cut to the chase.
Ye olde bottom line.

Check out the case "Meshworks v Toyota". In that case, the court held that vector depictions of Toyota cars - exactly like fonts are depictions of typefaces - are "slavish imitations" of the cars by digital means and therefore not copyrightable. The appeals court upheld the lower courts ruling, (a good thing for the "strength" of the precedent), and denied the plaintiffs a copyright on the vector-based depictions of the cars. The decision was even humorously apologetic with a "nice try, but sorry, you're screwed" kind of tone to it.

The court ACKNOWLEDGED that there was choice, acknowledged that there was great labor, but still, in line with clear precedents, like Feist, in essence told the plaintiffs that their copyright registration was good for nothing.

All you have to do is substitute the word "typeface" for "cars" and the reasoning will lead you to exactly the same result. Eldred doesn't even enter into it, but it is, I guess, additional bad news.

Meshworks has been written about quite a bit.

Uh, Typophilers - don't get in a snit about "slavish imitation'. It's no slur and doesn't necessarily mean, literally, slavish imitation. If Hague responds, I'll explain.

John Hudson's picture

In that case, the court held that vector depictions of Toyota cars - exactly like fonts are depictions of typefaces - are "slavish imitations" of the cars by digital means and therefore not copyrightable.

The problem with this analysis is that in the case of a car, the car is the product and the vectors are the design, while in the case of a font, the vectors are the product and the design, these days, typically has no independent existence. A font is not a depiction of a typeface; a font is a computer program (according to the generous definition of the USCO) that in combination with other computer programs displays encoded characters on screen, in print, or other media. The point of Judge Whyte's analysis -- which was also mine at the time, in debates with the owner of SSi -- is that the choice of point placement in the vectors affects the display in different ways and the way in which the outlines interact with other aspects of the font software (notably hints, also interpolation algorithms etc.), and therefore their placement is not determined by a pre-existing design. In other words, you're begging the question, because the judgement you are challenging explicitly contradicts your challenge in affirming that font outlines are not imitations, slavish or otherwise, of a typeface.

I call myself a type designer because that is the common term for what I do, and because I like the associations with a long history of past practice and people whom I admire. But what I actually do every day is create fonts, a large part of which is a design process, but what I am designing isn't a typeface that is then depicted by a font: what I am designing, with more or less precision, is the various ways in which encoded text set in the font will appear.

dezcom's picture

If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody sees it on YouTube, does it still cut it?

Ehague's picture

Here are two cases that apparently didn't get all the way to trial but which nonetheless cited Adobe v. SSI.

ITC v. Adobe, 2004 WL 2814678 (N.D.Ill.)
Monotype v. Red Hat, Inc., 2002 WL 32678232 (N.D.Ill.)

Westlaw lists another 39 cites to cases, treatises, and secondary sources.

The fact of the matter is that there just isn't a lot of case law on this subject. Though Adobe v. SSI exerts no power as mandatory precedent, it is more directly on point to the subject of the copyrightability of digital fonts than is, say, the Toyota case.

Don't get me wrong—the Toyota case certainly lines up the arguments whereby the selection of control points might not be considered sufficient to engender a crucial modicum of originality (though the opinion's "creative labor" language seems to go further than the precedent it cites). However, a few distinguishing points—

1. When I said "unfounded" I was referring to the Adobe court's reasoning's basis in the Fed. Reg. that speaks directly to the copyrightability of digital fonts as software. The Toyota court analogizes heavily to cases dealing with per se copyrightability of photography because, as it acknowledges, vectorization is sort of new ground and there isn't a lot of precedent (or a convenient statement coming from the Copyright Office) on the issue.

2. There's also the issue of the "slavish copying." The characterization of the creation of a bezier outline of a character in a digital font as a transcriptive, pseudo-mechanical task makes sense to a degree when one is talking about digitizing a sketch, say. But when the creation of the unprotectable expression is concurrent with and inextricable from the digitization of it, it's hard to avoid regressing into the argument that typeface design is a highly creative process that ought to receive protection.

The danger in going against Adobe v. SSI is that it would upset a great deal of settled expectations as far as contracts/licensing digital fonts goes. That was the tradeoff in Toyota—sure, there's something to be gained when a court tries to keep the originality requirement from getting too soft, but here this company was thinking it had contracted to produce something that would require further licensing if Toyota's contractor wished to use the vectors further, only to get burned when it realized it had negotiated something it couldn't claim rights to.

Richard Fink's picture

@ehague

>The danger in going against Adobe v. SSI is that it would
>upset a great deal of settled expectations as far as
>contracts/licensing digital fonts goes.

Wrong. And I have no idea what you mean by the phrase "settled expectations".
Look, it's simple: one judge wrote something that doesn't matter as precedent.
Those with an interest in insisting that fonts were copyrightable software jumped on it and blew it out of proportion out of self-interest. So what else is new?

>"The Toyota court analogizes heavily to cases dealing with per se copyrightability of photography because, as it acknowledges, vectorization is sort of new ground and there isn't a lot of precedent (or a convenient statement coming from the Copyright Office) on the issue."

Also wrong. They don't analogize at all. They cite and explain the case law upon which their decision is based. Legal scholars expert in copyright have called it a very well-reasoned opinion. Read the decisions cited. The court in Meshworks isn't winging it.
And it's an appeals decision, too.
There's nothing equivocal about it.

One question: do you know anything about how fonts are constructed? What they actually are? THAT I'd really like to hear in your own words.

And if you think the USPTO decides what's protectable, or even has a great influence on court decisions, go ahead, believe that.

Uh, frankly, I detect some partisanship here. A desire to find a result. Even if it's fog. Not an effort to find out how things really stand. Your thumbnail synopsis of the case is way off.

Thanks for the links, once again. And good luck with your research. Hopefully you'll be able to make it available when done.

Incidentally - I don't know if the page is still there, but when Meshworks was decided, William Patry wrote a bit about it on his blog. Interestingly, an IP lawyer in LA commented on the connection between the vector-based renderings done by Meshworks, and fonts.

If your argument is that vector outlines are a kind of protectable expression separate and apart from the expression produced when those vector outlines are interpreted and rendered, go for it.

Richard Fink
Blog: Readable Web
Type Director: Kernest

k.l.'s picture

R.F. -- One question: do you know anything about how fonts are constructed? What they actually are? THAT I'd really like to hear in your own words.

One answer: Read the spec. What are you asking for? "The OpenType Specification Retold · Now Rhyming"?

Given the amount of words you offer, could you please summarize what your point is, in a few words?

Richard Fink's picture

Hey, Cool Hand! Hope all is well.
[Just the man I want to talk to but not about this. I need to know if a FontLab Python script is doable for something and if you can do it and at what price. Expect an email.]

And since it IS you, I'll answer:

The question was born of time-wasting experience while discussing this stuff with attorneys.
Not one of them had any idea how, technically, a font was put together. And that adds a kind of mystery to the discusion that I'm detecting with ehague. Ehague is vague (hey, that rhymes!)on the point and the nature of a font's construction is a critical "fact" in the legal sense.
That a font is not "code" as people would normally conceive of it, but rather a database containing labels and numbers is very important.
Hence, OpenType "Tables". Tabular data. Every attorney I've spoken to, was rather taken aback by that. "You mean that's all it is?" was the usual response.

I'm technical. You're technical. We have the background to read the OpenType spec and understand what it says. (You moreso than me, I'm sure.)
Telling a a lawyer or a judge to "go read the OpenType Spec" is not only counter-productive, but you don't talk to judges or write briefs that way.

Does that cover it? Or did you have a different point in interjecting?

Richard Fink
Blog: Readable Web
Type Director: Kernest

Ehague's picture

1. The Toyota court analogized to a better-developed realm of case law than that which existed for the precise subject matter it was dealing with. Analogy is a perfectly respectable mode of legal reasoning.

2. Toyota is precedent in the circuit in which it was decided (10th circuit). It is binding on other 10th Cir. courts. Otherwise it works as persuasive authority on courts in other circuits.

3. Settled expectations is a legal concept that refers to situations in which parties have operated for some time under the belief that, for example, they have property rights in something or that a contract they are party to is valid. The entire digital font industry believes it has a property interest in its digital fonts and has become party to innumerable licensing agreements as a result. This is just one thing a court or legislature might consider if it were going to completely abrogate copyright in digital fonts.

4. Fonts are created using a) selection of bezier points that best fit the contours of a glyph sought to be described (and the contours of other glyphs that the glyph must be harmonized with) b) the setting of sidebearings c) the programming of any substitution, class kerning, etc. d) any other incidental choices (e.g., how the hinting will be handled, how the font will appear in font menus). Am I missing anything important?

Beyond that I think I'm done arguing this.

Nick Shinn's picture

I wouldn't say that bezier points are selected to FIT a contour.
The contour doesn't exist until the BCPs define it.
Bezier points are used to CREATE and define/fix a contour, just as graphite is used to realize a line when drawing with a pencil.
The hand-tool that does the digital drawing may be a mouse, stylus, track ball or track pad.
Make no mistake, this is hand-eye-brain feedback-loop DRAWING—I don't know any type designers who create glyphs by typing numbers.

butterick's picture

Look, it's simple: one judge wrote something that doesn't matter as precedent.
Those with an interest in insisting that fonts were copyrightable software jumped on it and blew it out of proportion out of self-interest. So what else is new?

Richard, your argument no longer merits response, since you refuse to acknowledge the errors of law, reasoning, evidence, and common sense that have already piled up.

Ehague's picture

@Nick

I agree that "fit" isn't the right word on a practical level. I was just trying to honor the artificial legal distinction between the creation of a (non-copyrightable) typeface and the rendering of it through (copyrightable) description in vectors.

LexLuengas's picture

I don't know any type designers who create glyphs by typing numbers.
This is very close: http://www.typophile.com/node/73827.

Richard Fink's picture

"Richard, your argument no longer merits response, since you refuse to acknowledge the errors of law, reasoning, evidence, and common sense that have already piled up."

Oy vey. I try to get away, put they keep pulling me back. To cop Al Pacino's line from Godfather III.

Be specific about these errors of law, reasoning, evidence and common sense that you see and I'll respond to them one by one. How's that.

'Cause I'm not seeing these things. And besides, there's far more arguments I could make, and will, but not here. But if you want to deal with what you say is convincing stuff supporting "fonts as copyrightable software", that exists on this thread as it stands, I'm all ears.
Because all I give a hoot about is laying out all of the court decisions that may apply, look at the history of it, weigh whether the numbers in a table which describe a typeface qualify - independently of the typeface - as protectable "expression", and wherever the chips fall, they fall. I really don't give a damn where they fall.

In other words, if you say there's a case to be made here for "fonts as copyrightable software" make it. And I'll respond point by point. The onus is on you, you've made a claim.

In other words - wanna piece of me? Bring it on. But keep it restricted to what's already been presented here.

Richard Fink's picture

@jh

"It is something that the trademark holder can sell, license etc.; this is why companies defend their trademarks, to uphold their value."

Yes, trademarks are transferable. But I'll say it again - if the product stinks, or stank, the trademark is worth little to nothing because it's use will only bring negative reactions. I'm not sure I'm seeing a point here.

The best way to defend a trademark is simple - use the name to market a great product or product line.

Richard Fink
Blog: Readable Web
Type Director: Kernest/Konstellations

quadibloc's picture

@Richard Fink:
The best way to defend a trademark is simple - use the name to market a great product or product line.

Odd. I thought that was the thing one had to do in the first place to have a trademark likely to be infringed upon, and one that was worth defending (by the other means of litigation).

In the absence of that, the best thing to do is to change one's trademark frequently, to confuse one's previous customers into buying from you again.

dezcom's picture

Knock-off vendors don't even have to pay for a logo design or even advertising! They simply steal the original guys stuff and laugh about it. I wonder how many REAL Gucci bags have been sold? Too bad Gucci did not have mob connections, they would have made the knock-off guys many offers too good to refuse ;-)

Richard Fink's picture

@quadribloc
Odd. I thought that was the thing one had to do in the first place to have a trademark likely to be infringed upon, and one that was worth defending (by the other means of litigation).

I think we're using defending in different senses of the word. You are correct. And me too. IMHO.

@dezcom

What you're describing is fraud. Pure and simple.
But what's interesting is that the customers - women from all walks of life, married and single - are not fooled one bit, in fact they are complicit in the deception. So what do you make of that?

Yeah, let's put these ladies in jail!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosco-photo/3495354031/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Here's an article from the Virginia Law Review:

Shopping For Gucci On Canal Street: Reflection On Status Consumption Intellectual Property and the Incentive Thesis

BTW - I think Gucci, as a company, is doing quite fine, last I checked. The literally poor bastards selling knock-off bags off of folding tables on Seventh Avenue, not so good, last time I checked.
In the handbag trade it pays a lot better to be the ripped off, not the ripper.

Far from putting a hit out, Gucci should pay for the marketing effort.

(Moderator: looks like the previous comment about online gambling is spam.)

Nick Shinn's picture

Lineto has recently plagiarized a trade name (Brown) I've been using for several years.
I asked them to change the name, but they have ignored me.
I really don't want to instruct my lawyer to go after them (in Switzerland).
Their font isn't a copy of mine, but they are both sans serifs.

I don't usually register trade names, as it seems to me to be an unnecessary expense in such a "small" industry.
Nonetheless, it does seem that their action has lessened the value of my intellectual property.

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