Font Licensing and Logo Design's picture

I’d like to use a commercial font in a logo, but am worrying about licensing. Unless they’re custom made, hand drawn designs, I guess all letter logo’s somehow use at least one font, for which the designer has (or should have) a license. Font licenses, in general, prohibit adaptation of the font files, and of the glyphs and artwork included therein. Furthermore, the user is not allowed to redistribute the font by embedding or packaging it into another format. Now, how could a logo designer use such a licensed font, if he’s supposed no to tweak nor adapt its glyphs so as them to meet the corporate identity with which the logo has to conform? Additionally, even if the glyphs were not to be modified, how could the designer supply his customer with ready-to-use .pdf, .eps, .tiffs, .jpeg files with the font glyphs embedded, or even converted into outlines?

If the use of the font as described above, would be allowed, should both designer and customer have a license? Suppose the designer wouldn’t use the font, but for that one single assignment, could he have just his customer acquire the license and still use the font for the logo?

We’re located in Belgium, Europe. I understand font licensing and copyright laws might differ between the member states of the European Community and the United States.

PS Though I’m a clandestine reader for some time now, I never bothered to subscribe as a posting member. So, because I’m new to this forum, please excuse me for asking about a topic that presumably has been discussed many times before.

[ EDIT: The first part of the above question was repeated under ]

Termopolium's picture

Generally, you need a license, the customer doesn't. But there are exceptions, so check with the foundry. Especially if your're using a font from an unfamiliar foundry. They can write anything they like in the EULA and who but a lawyer knows if it's legally binding?

For instance: with P22 fonts, it's OK to use any font to do the logo. *However* if you use a dingbat, that is, a graphical illustration distributed as part of a font (like the font Zapf Dingbats), you need to pay an additional fee. T.26 has a similar rule - specifically allowing text fonts to be used, but not dingbats. Linotype and Adobe's EULAs seem to follow the general rule - go ahead and make a logo.

Moral: don't be lazy. Don't use a dingbat for the graphical element in you logo, get out that Pen tool and draw it yourself!

Miss Tiffany's picture


I had the same concerns a few years ago. If you are only using the letters in a logo you are fine. Stefan is right in what he says about dingbat vs. letter.

The wording is meant to protect the work, but I fear, as you have pointed out, it actually keeps people from using the fonts because they misunderstand the EULA.

For a logo, you general turn the type to outlines anyway. Once you've done that, turned the type to outlines, in most cases the EULA does allow embedding after that.'s picture

> The wording is meant to protect the work, but I fear, as you have
> pointed out, it actually keeps people from using the fonts because
> they misunderstand the EULA.

That's exactly the case. I contacted the foundry and the answer reads as follows: "There is no problem to send a .eps to the client. The remark in the EULA is more about font embedding in PDF and that kind of stuff." I'm just perplexed by the legal inaccuracy with which these EULAs seem to have been formulated. If you interpret them strictly and literally (as you should, lawyer or not), then the end user's licensed use of the font would almost be restricted to its purchase only.

> Once you’ve done that, turned the type to outlines, in most cases
> the EULA does allow embedding after that.

This would mean that the EULA could be evaded to such an extent that it becomes completely obsolete, just by this single side-step? I mean, in extremis one could convert the glyphs of an entire font into outlines, correct or alter the anchor points, modify the shapes at whish, or just let them be what they are, re-import them in a font production packet and "embed" them again into a new font file?

Miss Tiffany's picture

Some EULAs do state that you cannot embed the font, outlines or otherwise. They even go so far as to put a percentage.

The foundries that don't allow embedding into PDFs are the same that are worried about people "sucking" the font information out of the PDFs, outlines or not.

Not being able to embed a font into a PDF, such as one used in an InDesign file, makes it impossible to use the font for many projects. These foundries are limiting their client-base, but they are only doing what they think will protect there fonts from yet another form of font piracy.

There are loopholes. But, finding loopholes encourages foundries to make stickier EULAs.

jlt's picture

slightly related:

acrobat 7 pro allows you to convert all type in a document to outlines using the PDF optimizer tool, which sidesteps the embedding issue completely, except as Tiffany notes.

One thing, though, Tiffany: "...cannot embed the font, outlines or otherwise." - converted to curves, it no longer fits the legal definition of "font," right? so embedding outlines - which technically are not "embedded," as in attached alongside the document inside the PDF wrapper, but part of the document's postscript itself - would be outside the realm of a font's EULA, wouldn't it?


jlt : : rnrmf!

Miss Tiffany's picture

Sort of... Only a few foundries get so specific to say you can't include outlines either.

As I mentioned in the other thread you just commented in, it sounds like it's time to get a EULA database going.

nicholasgross's picture

aarrgghh. I've just had 200 covers junked at the printers because my font didn't come through the pdf process despite my thorough checking and despite everything being OK at my end...or so I thought, something to do with level 2's and level 3 ripping, oh boy.

'Why can't you just send the indesign package file? and i would trash the fonts after I used them.' If I could do this most of my problems would melt away. Except that it isn't an option except for linotype fonts...go linotype BTW, trailblaze, we love you for it. sorry for frustration but I feel like blurting to somebody.

My question is, Is it actually feasible to outline all the fonts in a document as big as, say, a 300-page book? Does this just make the ripping process far too long and out of the question and painful and irritating? if i did this my problems would also melt away but I've shied away from it because I thought the size inflated far too much.


Miss Tiffany's picture

Outlining the font in something that large will make the RIP have a coronary.

What is your PDF creation workflow? You should start a new thread with this problem. I'm sure someone can help you.

Ratbaggy's picture

bump, cause a few peopl ehave asked lately.

Paul Ducco
Design, Melbourne
Little Mischief

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