What Monotype Owns: The List

pdxuser's picture

Monotype owns a lot. But they don't seem to put it in one nice list anywhere, so I thought I'd bullet-point the bigger items for my own and others' easy reference:

  • Ascender Corp.
  • Bitstream, Inc.
  • China Type Design Ltd.
  • Faces.co.uk
  • Fonts.com
  • Fontwise
  • International Typeface Corporation (ITC)
  • iType
  • Linotype
  • Monotype
  • MyFonts
  • Planetweb
  • WhatTheFont
  • WorldType

They are also the owners of what remains of former parent corporation Agfa, as well as the vestiges of various smaller companies they've acquired and shuttered. Additionally, they are the creators and sellers of the Adobe Type Collection, but they license those fonts from Adobe.

Have I forgotten anything? In compiling this list, it strikes me that they own the three biggest competitors and the two biggest retailers in the industry, which seems like something the DOJ usually files a lawsuit over.

blank's picture

Berthold Type Foundry

Have you confirmed this with Monotype? I asked around and nobody over there thinks Monotype bought Berthold.

riccard0's picture

they own the three biggest competitors and the two biggest retailers in the industry, which seems like something the DOJ usually files a lawsuit over.

When Diamond Comics bought their biggest competitor in comics distribution, creating a de facto monopoly, they said that comics are just a subset of the larger books distribution market.

Bahman Eslami's picture

they own the three biggest competitors and the two biggest retailers in the industry, which seems like something the DOJ usually files a lawsuit over.
I hope so! :-|

Jackson's picture

Have you confirmed this with Monotype? I asked around and nobody over there thinks Monotype bought Berthold.

I heard a rumor about that a while ago but couldn't find any confirmation, seems like the kind of acquisition that would get a Monotype press release. Maybe it's caught up with the lawyers...

blank's picture

…they own the three biggest competitors and the two biggest retailers in the industry, which seems like something the DOJ usually files a lawsuit over.

The DOJ investigated the Bitstream deal and approved it. Owning web sites for selling fonts has not created an anticompetitive situation. Monotype cannot jack up prices just by owning web retailers. Most of the fonts sold through those web sites are owned by third parties, and those third parties set prices, not Monotype. The exception is Fonts.com, where Monotype tried raising prices above what the foundries would charge, but those fonts seem to be selling better elsewhere. Nor can Monotype raise prices on the Lino/Mono/ITC IP. They face stiff competition there from Adobe, URW, Scangraphics, etc., who all sell the same or better digitizations for lower prices. All Monotype’s acquisitions have really done is raise its profit margin by ensuring that it keeps all the revenue from almost all sales of old fonts like Helvetica, Univers, Futura, etc..

pdxuser's picture

Monotype doesn't fix prices, but it does determine how big a cut it will take out of its competitors' sales if they want access to the largest marketplaces. The advertised commission at MyFonts is 50%, although some apparently have more attractive arrangements.

As for Berthold, I added it after Googling Monotype and Berthold and seeing a clutch of headlines from news aggregator Topix about an acquisition. But it turns out those are forum posts, and there's no official word, so I've removed it from the list.

blank's picture

Monotype’s retail sites are only the largest marketplaces because of all the third parties selling there. Attempting to drop royalty rates would likely result in type designers signing deals with Phil’s Fonts, Fontspring, Font Bros, etc.. Some type designers would likely not even sign a Monotype contract at lower royalty rates. This would rapidly end Monotype’s position as the dominant player in font retail.

And the job of antitrust regulators is to protect consumers and innovation. They are not tasked with protecting the royalty rates of small business owners who just want to keep the status quo.

Si_Daniels's picture

PDX User, this might be a more effective form of protest...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/naked-man-protests-tsa-at-portl...

sardiez's picture

http://www.faces.co.uk/ is missing on the list.

pdxuser's picture

Thanks, I've added it to the list.

Also, you don't need to fix prices to get hit with a lawsuit. Internet Explorer and Netscape were both free, but the DOJ still successfully sued Microsoft for abusing its market dominance.

Nick Shinn's picture

I thought Adobe was in a similar situation with regards to font bundling.
But my business wasn’t in a position to sue theirs, and no government would bother with fonts.
Also, I didn’t get much sympathy when I expressed my ideas at Typophile; most people seemed to think bundling was OK, and were more concerned with piracy than monopoly.

freethefonts's picture

Monotype's licenses are so grey in places that when you ask them to clarify they come up with new regulations that fit your scenario so they can charge you even more. It's about time the licenses laws were regulated and in plain English! I find it hard to believe that anyone can be 100% compliant with their font licensing if the goal posts change! They own everything and now they're making new rules every five minutes monotype? should be monopoly-type!

Si_Daniels's picture

Can you give examples? Font licenses have trouble keeping up with changing technologies - even things as basic as document embedding rights terms were written at a time before commercial ebooks, and new things like iOS apps and webfonts weren't even considered. I know that Monotype and others have tried to write their EULAs in way that would adapt to the changing technological landscape - but that's easier said than done.

Uli's picture

I would apppreciate, if someone could update this list by the recent Monotype acquisitions.

For instance, the company "Linotype GmbH" seems to be defunct, and Frank Wildenberg seems to have been dismissed, and in the street "DuPont Straße" in the city of "Bad Homburg", there is no longer the former Linotype company.

riccard0's picture

Well, we should add FontShop to the list.
(too bad main posts aren’t editable anymore)

Maybe someone would make an entry on the wiki.
Category: monopolists ;-)

Uli's picture

That's "Monopoly Imaging".

As regards FontShop, Erik Spiekermann was quoted in 2011:

"Type designer Erik Spiekermann, never one to hold back on voicing his opinion, tweeted a number of responses to the sale, including that his company FontShop is now “the only major survivor outside the font monopoly” and asked, “Will Monotype Imaging be renamed Monopoly Imaging after buying Bitstream?”

(http://www.mediabistro.com/unbeige/monotype-set-to-acquire-bitstreams-fo...)

Now in 2014, his former outfit FontShop was sold to the same "Monopoly Imaging" company.

donshottype's picture

Depressing. Definitely puts most people who actually make fonts in the "starving artists" category. In economic terms there is a fancy term for this called "monopsony" -- one buyer many sellers. Obviously not an antitrust enforcement priority.
Don

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