Font licensing laws

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Matt Robinson's picture
Joined: 9 Aug 2007 - 2:58am
Font licensing laws

Hey everyone

I thought this would be my best hope of settling a question raised at work.

I'm putting together some brand guidelines for a client and the corporate typeface I'm proposing is Lineto's TYP1451.

Now my client is sourcing numerous design companies to produce booklets, brochures and posters. My question is: Does each company working on their corporate materials have to purchase the typeface, or is it just a case of my client buying a multi-user license and supplying it on demand to each design company working on it...?

Any help on this issue would be greatlu appreciated!


Blank's picture
Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm

Does each company working on their corporate materials have to purchase the typeface…

Emphatically YES. And designers get really pissed when clients email us the fonts and claim that they don’t nneed to be paid for.

…or is it just a case of my client buying a multi-user license and supplying it on demand to each design company working on it?”

If you’re interested in that kind of license, you’ll need to work out a deal with Lineto. Contact them directly.

Matt Robinson's picture
Joined: 9 Aug 2007 - 2:58am

Great - thanks for the information.
I've contacted Lineto to request a special license.

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am

I would suggest you or your client contact Lineto and negotiate an enterprise license. Depending on what is agreed to such a license would allow your client to distribute the font to all users in the company and to all vendors that are doing work for the company.

Ricardo Miranda's picture
Joined: 6 Jun 2007 - 5:52pm


If someone sends me an ad and states that I need to purchase the font, can that person give the outlined version of the font instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a font that I will probably never use again?

Paul Lloyd's picture
Joined: 11 May 2008 - 4:13am


I think the key to your question is the word probably. Speaking as a designer (and not a lawyer) I'd have no problem with your client sending you the font for one off use on a project for them provided:

1. They had sufficient licensing to cover the copy sent to you in addition to any others they might have in use.

2. That you delete the font immediately the project is finished, and don't leave it sitting around on your system to 'probably' not be used - but then maybe come in useful for another project one day (say in three year's time) when you've forgotten all about where it came from in the first place.

That said, I'm no lawyer and that's just my personal viewpoint, others may well feel differently. In any event, the cost of purchasing a license yourself would seem to be an expense that can legitimately be passed on to the client.

Malcolm Wooden's picture
Joined: 30 Mar 2004 - 4:57am

Rican, Not many fonts cost 'hundreds of dollars'. Most are between $10-$50 depending on the character set and versatility.

Rasendyll, Be careful giving that kind of advice (I acknowledge that you say you are 'not a lawyer') but the user must check the license (it may not allow off-site use) and if they have any queries about what they can do with the font, to check with the distributor or the foundry.

Jack's picture
Joined: 6 Sep 2008 - 5:29am

So, building on this, could someone answer this question for me.

I've known of Major Toy Companies who release a current Style Guide and throughout that Style Guide in various Art displayed on the pages, they will use x amount of fonts from various Foundries. They have bought them to display in their Style Guide, but the Style Guide might go out to a thousand supplier/makers on behalf of that Major Toy Company. At the back of the Style Guide they will have a list of the fonts and where to buy them.

So say, someone (an individual supplier) is producing large bouncing balls...
He sees that he can get a Font from that Style Guide by also buying from the same Foundry.

But then this Supplier goes ahead and produces 200,000 large bouncing balls with the Toy Company's Character/logo etc and the Font Designer's Font.

In a License, how does the Font Designer protect him or herself from this mass usage of his Font?
The supplier's Graphic Design Department probably bought the Font as if they were less than a Commercial enterprise. The balls go to another part of the world were the Font Designer never sees them.

Just life?...or can you have a clause against mass usage of a Font?
Is the original Major Toy Company liable?

I'm new to Font Design and Font protection, so I'd love any feedback.