Custom Font Protection

For my products that are specific to my industry, I have fonts re-created in house so that they are as accurate as possible. I sometimes get competitors asking to download or license some of our fonts. We don’t want to give anyone permission to use it so that our products stand out above the competition.

If someone is very crafty, they can figure out how to download the font on Shopify and possibly Amazon. I already hide some trademark information on rare characters, but that can easily be removed in a font editing program.

I was wondering if we have any font pros with ideas on how to make a low-quality version on the fonts that look good enough on a web-based preview, but would not work well if the font file was copied for their own print/design purposes.

Any ideas?

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Might want to talk to an attorney about this, but if your work is copyrighted and someone rips it off, you can file a DMCA takedown notice. You need to be prepared to file a lawsuit if they issue a counter-notice though.

It could actually be a nice situation for you if a competitor used your copyrighted work and had a bunch of units made with it on it. You can basically demand whatever % you want of the sales price of their product to let them sell it through.

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I think Etsy allows you to file a claim with a copyright board in lieu of filing a lawsuit. I wonder if Amazon will follow this procedure.

Font law is a bit unhelpful - you can’t trademark a font style, but you can copyright the font set program/file in its entirety as software.


BUMP for :eye::eye:

If you try to limit your font to a “low resolution”, it will look horrible if someone resizes their browser when looking at your font when YOU use it yourself.

If you have a proper font, it will be copyable - the font HAS to be “copied” for it to be displayed, and if I go to your website and can SEE your font, I can grab a copy and use it. Don’t expect to be able to “secure” a font.

Can you catch people who misuse your font? Yes, but you need a registered copyright on the font before the FIRST misuse by the miscreant to be able to collect “statutory damages”. Otherwise, all you have is “actual damages”, hard to prove with a mere font. The good news here is that you can file a copyright application today, yourself, with ease, and for less than you will spend on lunch.

In general intellectual property is easy to steal. But if someone steals it to make money off of it, you can seek to claim the money that they made. I would still suggest getting some legal advice from an attorney if you’re serious about protecting it.


I should add that the folks pointing you towards a lawyer are not being helpful.

You should LICENSE your font to those who want to use it - its an asset, and it can make you money.

A copyright is intended to be filed BY THE ARTIST, for nothing more than the fee charged by the Copyright Office. If someone infringes, there are multiple ways to get them to stop without an attorney, as the THREAT of a lawsuit is far more effective than actually filing one. Once a letter is sent by a lawyer, the opportunity for “amicable settlement” of the issue is likely gone. If YOU send a letter, and THREATEN legal action if they don’t stop, you can save you AND them a ton of money, as no one wins when they walk up the courthouse steps.

I used to run the division of AT&T Bell Labs that made the “Unix” operating system. (Had to sell the whole shebang to Novell, as the free unix was getting better and better, and I had 5,000 employees to feed…) I NEVER went up the courthouse steps, not even with people who were clearly not paying all the royalties we were due, like Microsoft (Balmer, et al were the usual culprits), and SCO (Larry and Doug Michels).

Yes, I could have sued under copyright AND trademark violations, and I accurately joked that we had more lawyers in our legal/contracts department than most of our licensees had employees, but the reality was that my best customers were inherently the biggest under-reporting and under-paying “pirates”. So, we did a lot of audits under our draconian audit clause, but I NEVER sued nobody, as you can’t make money in court, and I wanted the licensees to make more sales, and more money, so they could pay me more money.

The punchline here is that Doug and Larry were SUCH big customers, they ended up buying Unix from Novell, and employing all the employees who stuck at it through all the upheavals, so they ended up being the best friends the Unix division (including the lawyers!) ever had.

Bottom line, you don’t sue your customers. Nevah evah.
Most folks nevah evah get it.

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OP isn’t worried about customers ripping him off or underpaying royalties, the concern is a competitor copying it to make their product look better.

An issue with a competitor is 100% best resolved with threats/court actions.

@packetfire an attorney isn’t only for litigation or for filings. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

An experienced IP lawyer can advise on all the ways that @Setalpz can make, secure, protect, and/or market their IP.

A one-time consultation or a comprehensive IP protection plan might be worth the business investment–without paying a retainer, paying for something OP can do themselves, or suing anyone.

:smirk: We know you’re personally not a fan of (paying for) lawyers, but that doesn’t mean that advice to consult an IP lawyer is unhelpful.

It’s just one option for OP to consider, amongst others. It might or might not be the right choice for them at this time, but that’s for them to decide.

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If one is confident in their knowledge of the law, then yes, paying an attorney for a consultation is a waste.

But as OP is here asking legal questions, he clearly is not confident in his knowledge of the law. Taking what randoms say on the internet into consideration is fine (especially if you can verify that information with reputable sources online), but if he still has any uncertainty or is basing an important business decision on it, speaking to an IP attorney is the way to go.

Lawyers are NEVER the best source of information on anything OTHER than litigation. IP protected by Copyright is a morass, and you are inviting someone to spend money they don’t have to spend simply because YOU have zero expertise in the area.

One is well-advised to educate oneself in this area, if for no other reason than to realize that copyright is a cut-and-dried thing for a clearly REGISTERED copyright. The mere threat of a suit for a REGISTERED copyright is enough to make any attorney settle quickly. Actual litigation will yield only a pyrrhic victory at best, as Section 505 of the Copyright Act allows the court to “award a reasonable attorney’s fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs.”

That is your opinion, and perhaps your experience, but it is not universal by any means.

Um, it wasn’t my recommendation–but I certainly support sharing different options. There’s simply not a one-size-fits-all strategy for all situations. What worked for you once is in no way guaranteed to work again, or for anyone else.

And also–I’m not certain whether you meant me “you” or general you, but personally I’m quite confident in my own expertise in the area of self-managing trademarks and copyrights…but then again I’m a special kind of nerd, with certain mad skilz and a lifetime of uniquely relevant experiences, but that’s simply not true for everyone.

None of us knows it all…never mind what we think about whether we do or not.


Its never been any clearer than this:

Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.

Ok, you personally hate lawyers enough to want them dead. :woman_facepalming:

Doesn’t mean that suggesting consulting with a lawyer is unhelpful.

…as stated by a literal ■■■■. :eyes:

ETA: This Shakespeare quote is often misused out of context. It’s not a viable suggestion from an admirable character (“■■■■ the Butcher”) and should not be interpreted as Shakespeare’s own opinion. Quite the contrary, actually. Here’s a good explainer:

In other words, this suggests that Shakespeare represented lawyers as the most fundamental defense against the grossest manifestations of power-hungry antics wrought by the scum of humanity.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer. None of my loved ones are lawyers.

I may have come up with a somewhat helpful procedure. For my custom listings I will display a normal, thinner font than what I actually use on my products. For the actual artwork I will use the bold version of each custom font. So if anyone rips off my font file, they will have a less-attractive, less-useful version of the real thing.