I was wondering how much time I have to wait to create a digital revival of a printed typeface?

I have an original Stempel sample of a typeface from the 40's that I want to re-make.
Linotype already has a digital version (the only one). Is there a time frame for this kind of thing? 
How does this work?

Thank you.


  • European protection is much stronger than in the US but my opinion is, and I am not a lawyer, if it is from the forties and you don't call it by the same name you will probably be OK.
  • Thanks George, what's with the names trademarks?

    The font that I want to re-make is on this list, so its registered, but only in USA?
    I never understood font naming trademarks... I thought they where by country
  • You could of course ask Monotype. They might be biased, but if you go in blindly you might find their bias legally weaponised. Anyway, seventy years is really close to a lot of copyright claim expiry times, so who knows, it might be ‘safe’ when you’re done with it.
  • If you release a font with the same name as a font someone else has already trademarked – even if the design looks totally different – you can expect to receive a cease and desist letter from a lawyer representing the trademark-holder.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,485
    I think there is enough “transformative” (in the copyright sense) work required by digitizing a font from a letterpress printing, to constitute an original design—provided that (a) the model is not overly idiosyncratic, (b) the re-working has a strong overall interpretation, and (c) you change the name. Ultimately you have to be the first judge of whether you’re just lazily swiping someone else’s design or have provided a genuinely transformative new work, and your peers are the second judge—upon that depends your reputation and brand.

    I don’t think there is any legal issue (other than re-using the original name), because the notion of intellectual property in typefaces applies only to digital files; things may be more strict in some European countries, I’ve heard, but I doubt that this kind of “revival” would warrant prosecution (disclaimer: I am *only* a type designer, not a lawyer!)
Sign In or Register to comment.