Berthold bullies competing font producers – report here when you’re hit by them

On request by Berthold Direct Corp. (Chicago) Myfonts has excluded my font Popelka from sales on Dec. 30, 2016. Berhold’s claim is, according to J. Collins of MyFonts, “that the name sounds confusingly similar to Berthold's trademark for Poppl”. I regard this action being unjust and harassing and I have informed MyFonts that I demand my font being put back alive to sales.
As it turns out, Berthold seems to have conducted more such affairs over the past years against other parties. If you’re a type designer or company having faced such intimidating behaviour, please report your story here and now. It is important to stop this kind of agression in the type industry. We need to ally and join forces to make this known to a wider design affine public audience.
If you’re a blogger or news person, feel free to pick up this story and spread the word.



  • I note that Adobe’s “confusingly similar” Poplar is still standing on MyFonts, but as you’ll recall, the Hunts didn’t do so well trying to take on Adobe. Perhaps they should expand their view and try to wage battle against Kellogg’s, the makers of the “confusingly similar” Pop-Tarts, or the confusingly dissimilar Iggy Pop. 

    N.B. The above remarks are satire, a form of speech (still) protected under the U.S. Constitution.

  • edited January 2017
    Everybody knows that he with the larger lawyer army wins. (BTW "protected" satire is no match.)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,144
    edited January 2017
    [Moved my comment to another thread.]
  • Did Myfonts give any indication of helping you or fighting your corner?
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited January 2017
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Not giving advice, but, I believe I can register my trademarks at any time. :)
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 277
    As annoying and unjust as this may seem to you, public squabbles do not help promote a good perception of the font community. I would pick another battle.
  • SiDaniels said:
    […] public squabbles do not help promote a good perception of the font community. I would pick another battle.
    Agree. What about telling this to Berthold and MF?
    I had no intention to ‘pick a battle’.
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 277
    @Marc Oxborrow, I agree that flagging the concern here is not a problem. The PR related to "two font vendors having at it in the blogosphere" is what might be considered harmful.

    @Stephen Coles - true this is just my opinion, and I actually enjoy spending time with attorneys.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,144
    edited January 2017
    It’s not really two font vendors. It’s a young designer and a business that owns some legacy (“classic”) rights. AFAIK, Berthold has not published a new design for many years.
  • I would agree with Si if this was a one-time thing. But Berthold has a long history of this stuff. Most graphic designers don’t know what kind of business Berthold is because it’s all just old Typophile posts. Maybe it’s time for people to understand who they’re giving money to when they license Akzidenz.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    To my understanding, Berthold is no-longer in the business of producing type products. All of their holdings have been in the possession of lawyers in Chicago.  The only thing they do is collect royalties and hawk their brands property rights.
  • Andreas, I sympathize with your predicament.

    I’ve often commented, on previous font blogs, that’s it’s often harder to come up with new font name, than actually making the font itself—all the good font names have already been taken.

    Some may call it challenging, I call it exasperating!

    After doing all my own extensive investigating (via the internet), I always first run my new font name(s), first and foremost, with Myfonts, in order to avoid conflict and, in particular, in not having to redo all of my collateral marketing material and graphic art layouts before I publish. Nothing is ever fair in any of this. I guess you can always fight this, but usually the bigger guy with more lawyers and money wins.

    I’m not trying to take sides, Berthold does have a trademarked name, and has a reasonable reason to complain (I guess?). It seems silly to me, IMHO I do not see any confusion with either font names. But, they see otherwise.

    In any event, I wish you luck. Perhaps you can negotiate with Myfonts to adjust your font naming of “Popelka” to something a little different like…

    “My Popelka”, or something like “Andres Popelka”. Starting the name of your desired font name with something else in addition may help to resolve the conflict.

    Anyway, I recently came across this link… Craft Brewers Are Running Out Of Names, And Into Legal Spats...

    Font naming, Beer naming… it’s all the same. Can give you a headache and hangover. Just a little humor ;-)

    Good luck. —Alex

  • In how far do copyright and trademark issues vary here in regard to the fact that those designs are entirely different in nature? I mean when it comes to type designs does not the coherence between potential knock-off name and knock-off design pose the actual infringement (not to say this is the case, in fact, especially asking because this is not the case)? Or is this completely irrelevant to potential trademark violation?

    I wonder if Andreas were to have Popelka trademarked and send Myfonts a letter asking for the removal of Berthold's Poppl, would they comply as well. Does Myfonts have legal liability for the trademark infringements on behalf of the fonts it resells - isn't any liability always with the uploading party?

    Excuse my naive questions... genuinely curious to learn something from this.
  • I’m not sure I can answer your questions comprehensively. MF puts the ™ sign on the names of all new fonts being uploaded. But note the difference between “trade mark” and “Registered trade mark”. Economically it would not make much sense to register Popelka as a font name. And actually Berthold might contact me about this problem first, not MF. That is the odd thing: they use MF as a stooge to act against me on their behalf, and MF takes over this part submissively.
  • One would think that MyFonts would step in and reject Berthold’s claim, as it crosses into the absurd, both linguistically and as design, and is ultimately bad for business. The problem, though, is the past litigiousness of Berthold, which, as one of its owners is an attorney, is in the position of filing as many court claims as it wishes without incurring extraneous legal fees. Thus, it has been easy for them to force little guys to spend themselves to death in their own defense. It is also possible that, in certain U.S. jurisdictions, one can find judges who can’t tell the difference between Futura and Caslon and could be persuaded that a font is a font is a font, as if Poppl Pontifex and Popelka were somehow interchangeable. Forty or fifty years ago—a very long time in modern typographic history—the name of Friedrich Poppl had some weight, but that is demonstrably not so currently. (Look at the age of the Poppl samples on Fonts in Use.) Arguably, that may well be the fault of Berthold, itself, through its reputation for wrathfulness and high pricing. Once, Berthold fonts were a brand of quality; today they are something to avoid, if only to avoid their owners.

    Someday, the Hunts might push up against a vindictive opponent with an allergy to bullies and with far more legal firepower than their own. “Hoist with his own petard,” as Shakespeare said. But perhaps the best way to fight such a bully is in the anonymous (and cost-free) court of Social Media. All one would have to do is quote, fairly and accurately, from the public record. Note that some of the controversy that played out on Typophile is still accessible: There’s more out there, too. 

  • Benedikt BramböckBenedikt Bramböck Posts: 37
    edited January 2017
    Back in 2003, Luc Devroye collected some of the cases involving “Berthold Types Limited” in a comment on his website.
    Luc Devroye … comment on his website.

    … most persistent fellows, I’d say. For so many years! Can’t believe it.

    Besides all that, I remember Günter Gerhard Lange (RIP) very well, personally, from a few occasions. He was not only a most prolific type man, he also was a gentleman. Got out of the war as a very young man, injured, and then enthusiastically welcoming live as the blessing of seeing the light of the day and the opportunity to work.
    His nickname was “Maschinengewehr Gutenbergs” because he could be speaking very plainly about matters he considered going wrong. – What would he say about all this – ?!

  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,379
    edited January 2017
    How is Poppl pronounced? How is Popelka pronounced?
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 632
    edited January 2017
    @Ray, "name sounds confusingly similar" is what drove me to listen to those pronunciations online; they are not anything close to similar. Most font buyers are smart enough to realize from the name alone they are likely not the same font.
  • > One would think that MyFonts would step in and reject Berthold’s claim, as it .... is ultimately bad for business.

    Very unlikely.

    > Someday, the Hunts might push up against a vindictive opponent with an allergy to bullies and with far more legal firepower than their own.

    Probably not, because lawyers are good at researching an opponent before taking action.
  • That is the odd thing: they use MF as a stooge to act against me on their behalf, and MF takes over this part submissively.
    It actually does make sense. Berthold’s lawyers could try to make a secondary liability case against MyFonts. If allowed to go to trial it might drag on for years and would be expensive for Monotype to defend. It also makes sense for Berthold to just threaten Monotype, who has no business interest in defending someone else, than to spend more money to take legal action against a business in another nation.

    Also, Monotype isn’t acting as a stooge. You can keep selling Popelka yourself. It isn’t hard to set up an online store.
  • Michael ClarkMichael Clark Posts: 138
    edited January 2017
    It seems and John are feeling their oats.

  • Michael ClarkMichael Clark Posts: 138
    edited January 2017
    I would love to see the font Andreas.

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