Does "exclusive" mean anything anymore?

Stephen Coles's picture

I don't mean to pick nits - actually, I guess I do - but could
someone help me understand what "exclusive" means in the
context of the latest ITC PR?


quote:

These exclusive typefaces can be viewed and
purchased at www.itcfonts.com/new.



In the same vein: What is "new" about ITC Legacy and ITC Anna?
This entire release baffles me.

dan_reynolds's picture

Steven, at Linotype, an "exclusive" typeface is only a typeface that is available through our website, or through one of our partners

dan_reynolds's picture

Ack, double post!

Stephen, it may be marketing, or simple database management on our part, but once a font is "Original", "Exclusive", or whatever else, it will also remain so.

On the other hand, just because a typeface is 10 years old, that doesn't mean that it has lost its "exclusiveness" or "originality." Monotype's Gill Sans is 70 years old, and is licensed through everyone, but that doesn't take away its Monotype-exlcusiveness and originality! It is still their typeface

hrant's picture

Stephen, this is the sort of thing that gets you excited dude?

hhp

dan_reynolds's picture

>My issue with the term "exclusive" is that ITC (Agfa
Monotype) is not the only retailer selling the font.


Do other foundries just sell it, or do other foundries also own it? If other foundries just sell it, I don't see a problem. If more than one foundry owns a version of the font, then I agree. Times for instance

dan_reynolds's picture

>Stephen, this is the sort of thing that gets you excited dude?

I don't know about Stephen, but I've recently found minor licensing details to be so interesting. Until our modern "englightend" digital era (har har!), backdoor and under the table contract deals seem to have been the rule and not the exception when it came to font licensing. Many of these agreements seem to still be in force, allowing enormous loopholes in font ownership.

How does one "market" around these things. Thankfully, these strange stories almost never apply to newer fonts, at least that I know of.

I'm such a "baseball card designer" (Cyrus Highsmith said at the last TypeCon & ATypI that there are three kinds of typography students

hrant's picture

> backdoor and under the table contract deals seem to have been the rule

Indeed. Compugraphic said they built their library "the usual way"... Even Enschede did some shady things a while back. At least we can now complain in public.

hhp

kris's picture

I'm such a "baseball card designer" (Cyrus Highsmith said at the last TypeCon & ATypI that there are three kinds of typography students

dan_reynolds's picture

I can't remember exactly

eriks's picture

backdoor and under the table contract deals seem to have been the rule

Have been?
Why the past tense? Selling a complete library for a one-off fee without consulting the designers involved, as Mark Batty did with the ITC library 5 years ago, surely counts as a shady deal. How many people even know about it today? And did Linotype ever check with the designers? No, they simply

dan_reynolds's picture

Erik, although Linotype purchased rights to the ITC library for a one-off fee, we still pay all ITC designers royalties on sales. This is actually a very important point, personally, with many Linotype employees I've spoken with

jfp's picture

(What Erik S and Dan R says are quite contridactory?)

Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go in the pocket of the designers directly from Linotype?

Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go in the pocket of the designers via ITC?

Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go to ITC pocket only?

Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go to Linotype pocket only?

dan_reynolds's picture

As far as I can say:
>Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go in the pocket of the designers directly from Linotype?

Yes.

>Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go in the pocket of the designers via ITC?

No.

Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go to ITC pocket only?

No. ITC doesn't get any more money from Linotype sales of their typefaces. That was part of their deal with Linotype.

>Does the ITC sales made by Linotype go to Linotype pocket only?

No. We pay the designers a royalty, and retain the rest of the sale profits.


JFP, Linotype owns an exclusive license to sell all ITC typefaces made before a certain date. We paid one lump sum to Mark Batty/ITC for this right years ago before he sold the company to Monotype. Because of this deal, as far as I know, Linotype does not have to pay ITC any royalties at all for the sales of any of these 1000 or so typefaces.

According to ITC's terms, Linotype was not required to pay the typefaces' designers any royalties on future sales either! However, paying royalties, and maintaining good relations with designers is very important to Linotype and its employees. So, even though it was not required, Linotype voluntarially decided to pay the deigners of these ITC designs royalties on the sales of these typefaces.

I looked in the forum archives, and it seems (based on his comments) that Erik thinks that he is not receiving royalties from Linotype's selling of his ITC Officina. I find the idea that he wouldn't be receiving any royalties very troubling, as I have it on very good authority that we do pay royalties on the ITC typefaces, so I e-mailed Erik offline and asked him to contact Linotype directly (basically anyone other than me :-( ) if he really isn't receiving any royalties, because there might be an error somewhere, or something further that I am not aware of.

jfp's picture

Thanks for the explanation and hope that Erik will be paid as the others if a mistake remain.

A last question remain: in which pocket the lump sum is?

dan_reynolds's picture

>A last question remain: in which pocket the lump sum is?

That went to ITC. What they did with it, I do not know. I think that the company was cash starved at the time, and may have needed an infusion just to keep from folding all together. Shortly after this sale went through, ITC was sold entirely to Monotype, as far as I know.

I have also heard that Monotype was not aware of the Linotype deal when they bought ITC, but I don't know any more details. Mark Batty would know.

union's picture

ITC Astro = hahaha

Chris Rugen's picture

Stephen, I agree. Product names and/or packaging that contains any of the following words is almost always there because the associated product is not:

New
Improved
For Kids
Fun
Better tasting
Space-age
Collector's/Limited Edition
Rare
Fancy
Exclusive
Extreme

So goes my experience, at least.

porky's picture

I've always enjoyed the very silly "Whiter than white".

jim's picture

I use exclusive as in "this font is an exclusive of this particular foundry". In other words, the foundry has the exclusive right to sell and market the font. If I release a design myself, I have exclusive rights to sell and market the font as I wish. Also, custom fonts often include an arrangement were the client gets an exclusive on the font for x-number of years, often renewable. The designer cannot market the font during the length of the agreement. At the end of the agreement, all rights to the font revert to the designer/foundry. Often, after the exclusive expires, the designer/foundry will sell the designs as retail fonts.

That's just the way I think of the word "exclusive" as it applies to fonts. Sort of.

zeetree's picture

I come from a marketing background, and see words like "exclusive" overused in all sort of promotional areas, and understand that ITC's usage here is not necessarily illegal - it's just pushing the envelope to the limit for a typically professional product (and conversely is within typically accepted standards for consumer products).

We have to judge this on simple terms. The question needs to be asked: Is this PR statement true? I think that the term "exclusive" in this instance hinges on the pretext that it is not available from another supplier. The fraud is in the concept that this is seemingly not ITC's primary usage of the word in this PR piece.

Usage of the term "exclusive" here seems to be centered around the notion that there is a degree of eliteness to the item, and this is obviously untrue. There is nothing limited, aristocratic, preferential, privileged, or private about these typefaces. ITC's use of this term clings to the idea that one cannot purchase it from any other reseller than those they authorize (Can anyone say BFD?). Yet anyone from any walk of life can purchase and use these until we are far beyond sick of seeing such use. As a result, the hint of a purchase and use of any of these typefaces being a semi-monogamous relationship with the designer is pure fiction. In the truest sense of the word the word, this company would have the greatest results from this product if it were whored! How exclusive is that? www.hookerfonts.com should be a redirect for this blurb.

Legal? Yes. On the up-and-up? Sorry, no.

In my experience, this sort of exaggeration is rarely limited to one PR release or advertisement for a firm. In ITC's case this is equally true as well. One of my favorite examples (besides the obvious Anna roots in Stephenson Blakes Casablanca) is in ITC Wisteria, a design whose sole credit is and has been falsely given by ITC from the getgo. I quote from their own website:

"ITC Wisteria was designed by Michael Stacey, a Florida-based artist and graphic designer.

ITC Wisteria was not designed by Michael Stacey, a well known fact among many. It is an exacting reproduction of an alphabet design copyrighted in multiple 1938 through 1952 popular publications by Ross F. George, co-inventor of the Speedball pen. Why companies like ITC like to stretch the truth, hide the actual origins, and deceive buyers with ITC Wisteria is perplexing at best. They need to go well beyond correcting misleading press releases such as the one this thread began with and cleanse their entire staff of personnel and material that does not meet the highest standards of forthrightness.

Lastly, I applaud Linotype taking the high road on the ITC rights they hold, and would hope that this is a minimum standard that they as well as others apply for similar rights as well. However, in doing so, Linotype as well as others have a responsibility to correct and amend for ITC's overzealous and inaccurate credit claims such as the one above.

eriks's picture

Linotype taking the high road on the ITC rights they hold

Either my earlier post on this topic got lost or censored. So I repeat:

Linotype have not been paying any fees to the ITC designers up until now. I should know: ITC Officina is one of the best sellers in the library, and I

Thomas Phinney's picture

Various incidents one has heard about over the years make one thing abundantly clear: there are all sorts of issues for type designers when rights to type libraries are transferred or sold.

In the long run, the only thing to be done is to recognize copyright inherent in the design of fonts. This would give the designers legal rights that would help immensely in the kinds of situations at issue. But this is not an easy thing to accomplish, particularly in the USA.

In the short run, designers might attempt to structure contracts such that the foundry paying royalties is unable to sell, license or otherwise dispose of the fonts without making provisions in those subsequent contracts that cause the royalties to continue.

Another option is for designers to simply sell their fonts outright to foundries at some reasonable rate. Then the foundry is able to do whatever it likes with the fonts, both legally and ethically. This transfers the sales-volume risk to the foundry (usually better able to average these things out across a larger volume of fonts). On the other hand, it requires that the foundry be able to afford to pay for the full value of the fonts up front. And of course although the designer is protected from the danger of poor sales, and gets money up front, they don't get to share in the upside if the font is a bestseller. So there are tradeoffs.

Regards,

T

John Hudson's picture

Another option is not to license your fonts to foundries in the first place. Keep control of your work. Sell direct or through resellers, e.g. MyFonts, and don't allow any sub-licensing. At most, there should only ever be one company between you and your customers, and you should retain all intellectual property (especially, in this case, trademark).

eriks's picture

don't allow any sub-licensing

Very good point, John. At FSI (publishers of FontFonts) the contract stipulates that we have to go back to the designers for any such deal. It may be in the designers

jzsittnik's picture

Hi everyone,
It looks like this press release could use some clarification by someone from ITC/Monotype Imaging...

Please take another look at the press release. ITC Legacy is never mentioned in the press release or referred to as new or exclusive. The only typefaces mentioned are ITC Astro, ITC Tyke, ITC Resavska and ITC Anna. ITC Anna Extended is a new addition to the ITC Anna family and the release details the history of the face.

Again, the press release never mentions ITC Legacy. It does, however, point the reader to this page on the ITC site. I'm guessing this is where the confusion came from. This page displays the featured ITC product of each month. In most cases, the featured product is a new typeface release. In other cases, its a new value pack. ITC Legacy was featured earlier this year when we introduced the ITC Legacy Complete Family Package - a package containing both sans and serif versions of the design. We also introduced a compilation package of the ITC Founder's Caslon faces this year.

Hope that clears things up,
Johnathan Zsittnik

zeetree's picture

Jonathan, the first clarification desired here is succinct. It's within the title of the thread, and perceived to be a severe stretching of the definition of the word "exclusive" in the ITC press release. What can you tell us about this?

The second clarification desired seems to be a distinct opinion by a number of prominent designers that royalties are not being paid in accordance with the terms that were set up when the designers agreements were made with ITC. What can you tell us about this?

Good to have you here so this confusion can be cleared up.

jzsittnik's picture

"perceived to be a severe stretching of the definition of the word "exclusive" in the ITC press release."

Not true. All the typefaces mentioned in the press release are exclusive: ITC Astro, ITC Resavska, ITC Tyke and ITC Anna Extended. You can't get these fonts anywhere but from us.

zeetree's picture

Jonathan, you are agreeing then that there is nothing exclusive whatsoever about the typefaces themselves, only in the place of purchase (i.e. from ITC). As a result, once an end user purchases or holds a license for these types there is no exclusivity whatsoever. This is what I meant by: "perceived to be severe stretching of the definition of the word "exclusive" in the ITC press release."

The press release states: "These exclusive typefaces can be viewed and purchased at www.itcfonts.com/new." To claim that this now only means that they cannot be purchased anywhere else is certainly not the way it reads. It reads that the typefaces themselves have exclusivity, which would by definition extend beyond the point of purchase.

jzsittnik's picture

"To claim that this now only means that they cannot be purchased anywhere else is certainly not the way it reads."

I have to disagree with you there. "Exclusive" is used very commonly in press releases to describe exclusive distribution. Its a word we've used for years, and I've never had a member of the press (the intended audience) come back with a question. If we wanted to call the typefaces "limited, aristocratic, preferential, privileged," the description would never appear in the headline of the press release. It would have to be attributed as a quote, since it is opinion. It is fact, not opinion, that we are the exclusive distributor of these products.

Stephen Coles's picture

That may be a fair dig, Dan. Marketing is often deceitful at its core.
But I try to avoid blatantly dishonest language.

Come on, some of those fonts are over ten years old and
available at several retailers.

I don't want to make a huge deal of this. I'm more amused than
annoyed.

Stephen Coles's picture

My complaint about the age of some of those fonts is that the
PR and site claim they are "new". But I stand corrected about ITC
Anna - a new weight has just been added. ITC Legacy, on the
other hand, hasn't been touched since the early '90s, AFAIK.

My issue with the term "exclusive" is that ITC (Agfa
Monotype) is not the only retailer selling the font.

That is all.

Miss Tiffany's picture

ITC ANNA has been expanded to include an extended version. I believe also some expansion has happened to Legacy but I can't verify that at the moment.

Stephen Coles's picture

quote:

Stephen, this is the sort of thing that gets you excited dude?



Not excited, amused.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Advertising Lingo

Something I've heard is that "the color of corn is gold"...so I assume the cornier the better?

(sorry terribly off-topic)

dan_reynolds's picture

I think that it is probably more "marketing speak" than anything else

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