The Future of Font Naming: is it still unethical to use the same font name?

Hi everyone.

I've looked for this topic, but I think it's not started yet, so here I am.

Due to the rapidly growing numbers of fonts out there, I thought that we are already run out of font names, especially the good and short ones. Thus, I want to ask you guys, what would the future of font naming be? Would we start to create non-sense or long font names, or we think it's now ethical to use the same font names (especially if the words are not made up)?
Or maybe in the future there will be an official regulation of font naming? For example, we have to use initial prefix or suffix.

What's on your imagination this naming thing would be?

And the thing is, the fonts with the same name are already there. For example, there are already three entries for "Oxford" in MyFonts (although two of them are the same fonts), but when you search it on CreativeMarket, boom, there is one other "Oxford" which is different from MyFonts entries. This is just one example, there are many, and we also haven't talked about how many fonts with the same name on Dafont.

If you ask me, considering the growing numbers of fonts, I think it's just ethical to use the same name of fonts as long as it's not a made-up word. Just like some bands sharing the same title for their songs. I know it will cause conflicts in the system if you want to install those "same name" fonts, but we have to admit that we've created sooo many fonts that we can't install them all in the system. We have to choose.

What do you think?


  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    Surely, if you are creative enough to make a typeface of your own original design, you can come up with an original name?
  • Ariq SyauqiAriq Syauqi Posts: 13
    edited March 2020
    Wow. I really am sorry if my statement is offending. please don't take it too personal :)

    Sure, I've been taking this issue so carefully and avoid the double naming as well. That's also the reason why I ask it here, to have some opinions from the experts.

    Actually I come up with the topic because I can't stop thinking about it:
    I am about to create a font family with weight and width axes. For it will have some suffix like "Font Name UltraLight Wide" or "Font Name Heavy SemiNarrow", I try to use just one-word font name.
    Some people like to name the fonts after a place name, like San Francisco, New York, and Montserrat. I like it too, and have chosen one. I looked it up on MyFonts, Dafont, Identifont, and FontData, and it's not been taken. Then I looked it up on CreativeMarket: it's there, a casual font.
    I don't think I will distribute it via CreativeMarket, so it's been a dilemma for me: to stay with the name or give it up.

    Thank you @Thomas Phinney for answering it with explanation. It's exactly the feedback I'm looking for: opinions from the Typeface Guru :)

    Some comments from me:

    At first, like you, I think MyFonts won't let the same name fonts on their library, until I looked up some popular words on it, and they are there (multiple entries). Then, I assume it is maybe just a past mistake, but it's not. The most current fonts with the same name I can find on MyFonts is Disco. There are two fonts named Disco on MyFonts which one of them is released in February 2019. It's quite new.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    The MyFonts situation is complicated; I would talk to them for guidance, but it is based on direct discussion with MyFonts. I believe that if one party has a trademark, of course they won’t allow the other. If there is no trademark, and one gets there first, and objects to the second one, then I think they won’t let the second one come on board.
  • Paul MillerPaul Miller Posts: 273
    I came up with a name which I thought was new and original, 'Sansibar' but unfortunately it had already been used so I didn't use it.  I agree that it is getting more difficult to find an unused original name but with a bit of creativity and some lateral thought it is not that difficult.
    I'm sure you can come up with something if you try.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,648
    A quick way to find out if a name is already taken is The Typeface Name Check at Be sure to read the caveats on the "about" page.
  • Thank you for all the answer :)
    By the way, I want to make it clear: it's not about me, but the community, the world.
    Sure, I will not use the name already taken, but what's your opinion about those who did? 
    Because unfortunately, as I mentioned above, they are there. And my original opinion above is for them who did, not for myself.

    I also want to make it clear that I take this issue so carefully, yes I did check many websites like FontData like @Mark Simonson mentioned. But what's your opinion on fonts created by hobbyists? Should we take them into account if they're already taken the name? I'm sure we should. In my opinion, we should not differ between the Pro fonts and not. Thus, the quickest way for me is checking them via Google, because sites like FontData doesn't include websites like CreativeMarket, CreativeFabrica, Dafont, BuyAFont, and other less-famous websites.

    You can tell me not to use the name taken, and I will follow it. But how will you tell the world about the rules? That's why I came up with the question:

    Muhammad Ariq Syauqi said:
    Or maybe in the future there will be an official regulation of font naming? For example, we have to use initial prefix or suffix.

    Because, I believe that font making is now becoming a trend. It will continuously grow and I believe in the future, font-making will be as popular as photography nowadays: everyone does it. Especially in Indonesia, someone already realized it and post it here: Typedesign and Indonesia
    Furthermore, a few days ago, triggered by some issue about font licensing, a thread about font-making is trending in Twitter Indonesia, encouraging people to create their own fonts with just their smartphone. And I have to tell you it gets 25.000 retweets and 82.000 likes. By the retweets and likes it gets, I'm pretty sure the impressions are millions.
    At first, I thought people just retweeted and liked it without further actions. But I'm wrong, they really started to create their own. And by the fact that distributing fonts via some free-download-font websites are quite easy, tons of fonts will be released every day. Thus, slow but sure, I believe that someday we will really run out of names.

    That's why I create this topic: "The Future", not today. I'm asking for your opinion what would the future font naming be? 🙂
  • Hermes: According to government records, the only names not yet trademarked are "Popplers" and "Zittzers".
      — Futurama
  • Just to add my 2¢, I don't think there is an ethical problem (legal problems may be another issue) with using a name which already exists provided the name is one that indicates the provenance of the font.

    So, for example, while naming your new futuristic typeface 'Avenir' or 'Eurostile Bold Extended' would be a definite no-no, I don't see a huge problem if, for example, foundry XYZ were to design a set of ornate capitals based on the Book of Kells and to name it XYZ Kells despite the existence of P22 Kells.

    Note that I am not a professional font ethicist nor do I play one on TV.
  • Also, I should note that it was not until after I made the above post that I checked to discover that there is, in fact, an XYZ Type ( Any resemblance between them and my hypothetical XYZ foundry is purely coincidental.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,128
    I have quite a few naming anecdotes, such as trademarking Bodoni Egyptian®. The adjudicator was at first resistant to the idea that there was anything markworthy in the idea of a slab serif “didone”. But I though it was worth the legal fees.

  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 688
    There is something worse than the feeling of finding out your perfect name has been taken by a trashy DaFont: the feeling of finding out your perfect name has been taken by another great font. From here there's two ways: you feel the other font is more deserving of the name, or you feel the other font looks nothing like the name which should have been yours (more often).
    About slapping your foundry initials in front of the name to make it unique: DJR slaps his initials, should the need arise, to the end of it (e.g. Forma DJR) which I dig very much, as grouping one's fonts within a menu has much less value to me than being able to key in first two letters, press Return and be done with it. Anyone else takes this route?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    edited March 2020
    1. Come up with great name for typeface.

    2. Find that it's already used by some poor quality free font for which the name makes no sense.

    3. Go away and release typeface under less good name.

    4. Time passes.

    5. See that one of your colleagues has released a typeface using that great name you thought of .

    6. Check and find that the poor quality free font using the name has 1) disappeared or 2) has become three different poor quality free fonts all using the same name.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    1. Come up with the absolute most perfect typeface name ever: sounds good and looks good, evocative, historically appropriate to the style of type, conveys all the associations that you want to convey.

    2. Discover that Rian Hughes is already using it.

    3. Be grumpy and sad about it for years.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,648
    Pretty much every time I've found that the name I wanted to use was already in use, I've ended up coming up with a better name.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    I wish that were the case here, Mark. My first impulse is almost always the best one when it comes to naming, and then my inspiration declines with each subsequent unusable name. The worst was naming what ended up as Constantia, because Microsoft had decided that all the ClearType Collection fonts should have a name that begins with C. I went through so many name suggestions, all of which were rejected by Microsoft's trademark lawyers for one reason or another. Before they decided on the begins-with-C requirement, I had been planning to call it Osprey*, and then wanted to call it Cormorant, then Cabot, and a bunch of other names, before I settled on Constantia, which I like less and less as as a name as time goes on.

    * Both because I like the bird and the Geoffrey Hill poem 'Genesis' that contains the stanza

    The second day I stood and saw
    The osprey plunge with triggered claw,
    Feathering blood along the shore,
    To lay the living sinew bare.

    and also in reference to Bill Hill's 'The Magic of Reading' essay.
  • I'm still mildly annoyed at the review for Halyard in which they took a swipe at the name.  Sure, it's not the best name.  And, yes, they need something negative to say in an otherwise glowing (and long) review.  but it was such a below the belt jab that I still feel it to this day.  Don't ever criticize anyone ever for the name of their thing because naming is rough and they probably aren't happy about it either.
  • Mark, what didn't they like about Cormorant...?
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,648
    (@Christian Thalmann I think you meant that question for John.)
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    Mark, what didn't they like about Cormorant.
    John? :) 

    I think there was a trademark issue. For a company like Microsoft, they want to avoid any software related name or term used by someone else. So when they do a trademark search on a proposed font name, they're not only looking at existing font names but a whole bunch of other stuff. And they're looking internationally.

    Cabot was a likely name for a while. There was a possible trademark issue, but the trademark seemed to be dormant. The lawyers tried to track down the holder of the trademark to see if he would relinquish it, but he'd apparently gone into the Australian outback on vacation and couldn't be reached.

  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    Saw a similar issue back in the day: the name “Geode” was in use for some Motorola chips, so Adobe’s lawyers didn’t want to use it for a font. Ended up with my third-choice name, but it was better anyway, so that was OK.

    Big corporations going beyond fonts for big just makes a tough problem just that much worse. Robert Slimbach only managed to get his 5th choice name for Arno.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    I recall Dave Farey telling me that Sumner Stone called his typeface Arepo because a lawyer advised him against Opera.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,128
    Ha! He also has Sator. 
  • Ha! He also has Sator. 
    BRB, just designing Tenet and Rotas.
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