If they want to own my font I'm saying no. I will only license it.

fontdesigner2's picture

I was wondering, if a foundry demands to buy my font I'm going to be like, "Hell no."
I want to own the copyright. But why will they want to work with me to finalize the development of the font, if they will only have the right to sell it for a few years? They must figure that I will be taking my font with me and leaving at some point if I am only licensing the font to them. Is there really a lot in it for them to put their resources and energy into helping me finish it, if they figure (and figure right most likely) that I will leave them and take it with me at some point, if I can - Jeremy Tankard style?

I've heard some designers who say they sold the copyright to a foundry and regretted this because it could have made them more money if they hadn't, over a period of 10, 15, 20 years or more. Especially as they gain notoriety.

If they want to own my font I'm saying no. I will only license it.

oldnick's picture

Suit yourself: but be aware that street creds tend to accrue if a major foundry buying your design.

Unless you’ve really got your finger on the pulse of what every font buyer has gotta have at any moment, you're not going to get rich making fonts for a living. However, with the right PR, you could get famous.

Just sayin’…

Thomas Phinney's picture

If you don't have the knowledge and skills to polish a typeface yourself, then it is probably worth selling to a major foundry, *if* they will really hold your hand and help you.

They also likely have better distribution and so forth, and will get you a lot more exposure. Which will help the sales of your subsequent fonts.

That being said, the tradeoff is taking a significantly lower percentage than if, for example, you went through MyFonts.

Then again, it may be a bit presumptuous to assume that a major foundry will *want* to go that route if you can't submit a really polished piece of work. Adobe for example, apart from typefaces they commissioned for language support goals or other specialized purposes, only bought one outside design in the last five years I worked there.



dberlow's picture

"I want to own the copyright"
This really depends on whether or not you (yourself) are legally and financially, (to begin with), prepared to defend the copyright. Also, if the font software is evolving over time, the copyright can be complicated.

The trademark, which is where long-term value accrues in successful design and marketing, is what I think you want ownership of.

blank's picture

You should really put this question directly to people who actually sell their designs to foundries. AFAIK very few of them actually participate on Typophile.

hrant's picture

It suspect that's because very few of them exist. Examples?


charles ellertson's picture

If they [a foundry] want to own my font I'm saying no. I will only license it.

Why tell us? Tell "them."

Thomas Phinney's picture

Also, for the most part they aren't beating down the doors of would-be type designers. If owning it outright is their standard approach, and you say "no," they will say "great, find another foundry to distribute your fonts."

fontdesigner2's picture

Thanks for all your advice everyone. I'm starting to shy away from foundries now and think I may go the reseller route instead. I'm looking at a contract right now for distribution through a distributor. Essentially I would be licensing it to them for a certain period of time, and when that is up I would like the ability to take the font away from them if I want to. I'm trying to keep as much control as possible. It seems like they are trying to take as much control away from me as they can. They have a lot of things in it that I don't like that I've told them I want to change or remove.

@dberlow - If I sign a contract with a foundry or reseller and it says that during the term of the contract I'm licensing the font to them, they may trademark the name of the font in their name, do you know if they can they use this to take ownership of the font from me? The trademark is just the name of the font, but how much power will this give them over me?

hrant's picture

A foundry or a font house is a partner, and they have to make money too. Knowing and defending your rights is great, but I have to say you're sounding too antagonistic to have a fruitful relationship with any such partner. That said, some partners are better than others, so I would simply ask which ones people recommend, and whether they've been taken advantage of by any font house or foundry.


Thomas Phinney's picture

In general, I agree with Hrant. (Checks Bible against signs of the apocalypse, nope, it‘s not on the list. Whew!)

However, fundamentally, if you want to really "own" the font(s), then you do not want your distributor or foundry partner to own the trademark. You may think of it as “just” the name, but if the typeface does well, then there will be equity (value) in that name. It’s what people mostly refer to the typeface by. Taking your outlines elsewhere will become of less value to you and future partners if the name doesn’t come with them.

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