FontPeople distribuiting one of my typefaces under a different name.

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Hi everyone,

In 2019 I was contacted by Jason Harcombe, apparently the founder of FontPeople, with the intention of presenting his website as a potential marketplace to distribute my fonts. He also said he’d been in contact with other foundries to be part of it. From what I see, the site now operates just as a foundry. Although I supplied files merely with the purpose of creating assets to promote my fonts on the website, I never granted FontPeople any permissions to distribute or modify them since the project didn’t materialize as it was described at the end.

I was browsing FontSpring and got unpleasantly surprised when stumbled on a typeface called Testun. This family looks identical to one of mine called Mayonez, published in 2013. It's easy to notice that the only effort put into making Testun different was changing the name and maybe some other font info. According to FontSpring’s site, Testum was designed by Iachawr Telyncombe – from whom I didn’t find any information – and published by FontPeople. As if this wasn’t irritating enough, this knockoff is also available in Creative Market and FontPeople’s site at a significantly lower price.

If you’re one of the foundries that have been contacted by FontPeople before, you might want to check their site to make sure your work hasn’t been subject of the same treatment. Have any of you experienced something like this? I’m not sure on how to proceed. I’m still waiting on an answer from them, but frankly I don’t see this situation left room to blame on misunderstandings.

Best regards.


Comments

  • Jasper de Waard
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    https://fontpeople.co.uk/

    'The world's first full-service independent type foundry...'

    Whatever that means...
  • Florian Hardwig
    Florian Hardwig Posts: 265
    edited November 2022
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  • Luc Devroye has this listing: http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-104066.html

    Sad to hear of this bald-faced ripoff. I didn't know the Trump family had become involved in the font industry. .
  • Yves Michel
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    Could this Iachawr Telyncombe, even if catalogued by Luc Devroye, be a pseudonym hiding this big fraud! Maybe someone can resolve this anagram?
  • James Puckett
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    Have you asked the vendors to take these fonts down? 
  • George Thomas
    George Thomas Posts: 639
    edited November 2022
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    "Combe" does have some roots in Welsh. "Telyn" is also a Welsh female personal name, but "Telyncombe" has never appeared on any surname list, even in ancient times.
    My thoughts on it is that it was done to avoid liability.
  • Craig Eliason
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    Could this Iachawr Telyncombe, even if catalogued by Luc Devroye, be a pseudonym hiding this big fraud! Maybe someone can resolve this anagram?
    Whence ABC morality?
  • Mark Simonson
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    FWIW, I signed a distribution agreement with FontPeople for something called FontMarket in November 2019 which was never countersigned. A couple of days later I got an email saying they were pulling the plug on FontMarket. I never actually sent them any font data or anything.
  • Sergio Ramírez
    Sergio Ramírez Posts: 6
    edited November 2022
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    Thank you all for the insightful and supportive comments. Althought I had dealt with sites pirating my work, at least preserving the name and credits, this is the first time I spot someone appropiating it and profiting out of it. It's sad to see this happening because it's bad enough having to deal with plain piracy. How are we going to convince others to respect our work if people inside the industry are pulling this kind of moves?

    Jason Harcombe's got back to me explaining, apologizing and offering a solution, but I still have questions and even more after reading the comments in this thread.

    I took a look at this with Marc Foley's new fontdiffenator. Some vertical metrics have changed. The hinting has gone missing. But the kerning is identical and the point placement is identical. That's undeniably the same font.
    Thanks, Simon. I'd like to know if it's easy to access this information since I'm not good with programming and python. I'd like to prove that the person who did this took more than just the contours from the file.

    Not an anagram but clearly a pseudonym. Iachawr isn’t a Welsh forename; it does mean “healer” in Welsh. “Telyn” is harp, but “combe” doesn’t have Welsh phonotactics. So somebody Harp-Combe. Gosh. Who could the forger be, I wonder?
    Could this Iachawr Telyncombe, even if catalogued by Luc Devroye, be a pseudonym hiding this big fraud! Maybe someone can resolve this anagram?
    "Combe" does have some roots in Welsh. "Telyn" is also a Welsh female personal name, but "Telyncombe" has never appeared on any surname list, even in ancient times.
    My thoughts on it is that it was done to avoid liability.
    I agree that I found these names very strange, especially after googling them even separately and not finding many results. But I didn't want to jump into conclussions given my ignorance on Welsh language and culture.

    Have you asked the vendors to take these fonts down? 
    Yes, I have and it'll take like a week for them to respond to that. They also advice it would be better trying to solve this directly between the parties. Which makes me question if they shouldn't take more responsibility.

    The English name "Jason" comes from Greek Ἰάσων (Iásōn), meaning "healer".
    The Welsh word "iacharw" means healer.
    The Welsh word "telyn" means "harp".
    So examining the name...
    Iacharw    Telyncombe, mysterious type designer
    [healer]    [harp].....
    might lead one to conclude it is in reality this person:
    Jason      Harcombe
    [healer]   [har(p)combe]
    Until proven otherwise I think it is correct, and a very clever play with words too.


    Interesting to see so many coincidences together. According to Harcombe this is responsibity of a designer they hired to create these fonts.
  • Jason Harcombe
    Jason Harcombe Posts: 9
    edited November 2022
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    Hello everyone,

    I’m ashamed of what has happened here. This is genuinely a result of me being taken for a ride by an unscrupulous individual that I intend to take this up with directly.

    I have decommissioned all fonts from all platforms that are not, beyond doubt, original designs and will be closing FontPeople at the earliest juncture.

    I have offered Sérgio 100% of all money made from the sale of this font.

    I have, this morning, resigned from my job so as not to have any reputational splash back on those that employ me. 

    This is all due to me not carrying out sufficient due diligence on fonts I commissioned. I take full responsibility for that.

    From a personal perspective I have been diagnosed seriously sick recently, and am now without employment, so would appreciate some clemency from the industry that I’ll be leaving. I understand, however, that this is unlikely.

    Jason
  • Simon Cozens
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    Don't forget to take down your Creative Market shop as well, where you are still selling Testun. And speaking of due diligence...



    Did you do any?
  • Jason Harcombe
    Jason Harcombe Posts: 9
    edited November 2022
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    Don't forget to take down your Creative Market shop as well, where you are still selling Testun. And speaking of due diligence...



    Did you do any?
    I have requested it all comes down from all markets as soon as possible.  As for the knife twisting tone of question, who is that helping?

    In terms of disclosing all; I couldn’t agree more.  I am doing all I can to discuss with the other parties what their reasoning and explanation is for their actions.  I’ve always thought it best to hear people out before dragging their names through the mud in a public forum.

    My business is closed, and I’m taking steps toward restitution with those that this potentially harmed and I’ve lost my job. My deteriorating health will be more of a struggle to come to terms with than all of this, regardless.

    I won’t be commenting on this thread further. I wish you all the best.
  • Federico Parra
    Federico Parra Posts: 1
    edited November 2022
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    @c.g. I don't think it is a coincidence that many of the rip-offs you mention are URW fonts. According to MyFonts, @Jason Harcombe "is TDi 2018 graduate at the University of Reading. In 2017, he was appointed UK Sales Director by URW."

    Taken from:
    https://typedrawers.com/discussion/3768/who-is-fontpeople-co-uk

    In any case I don't mean to condemn him for what he did, but I think it is scary, seeing the amount of fonts being released everyday. I wish there was a way to trace if there are webfonts that are very similar (as @Simon Cozens did) across the internet. 
  • Die in-dryfoun
    Die in-dryfoun Posts: 27
    edited November 2022
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  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,402
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    @Jason Harcombe It was cool of you to show up here and explain what happened. I wish you all the best too.
  • Miles Newlyn
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    I wish there was a way to trace if there are webfonts that are very similar (as @Simon Cozens did) across the internet. 
    FontRadar
  • Sergio Ramírez
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    Well, Jason, it looks like the "earliest juncture" at which you close your shady business hasn't come around yet for some reason. Unscrupulous individual, indeed! You made (and apparently continue to make) tens of thousands of pounds from selling corporate clients unauthorized licenses to some Canada Type fonts for exorbitant amounts (or a renewal basis, no less) without our knowledge.
    For those interested, this is Jason Harcombe's modus operandi:
    An unsuspecting company (or their IT caretaker) wants to license fonts and is lured by the license facilitation copy he has on fontpeople.co.uk, so they use the contact form to ask for a quote on a license for their particular situation — which typically includes hundreds of desktop installations and/or apps, retail terminal use, live web site use etc. Jason sends them a very pricey quote, and if it's approved, he purchases a single desktop license to the fonts from a distributor like Fontspring or one of the Monotype channels (or even the foundry's own website). That's how he obtains the data to give to his client alongside the invoice. The money exchanges hands without the foundry even knowing about the transaction, and the licensee truly think they are in compliance, and even pay applicable taxes to Harcombe in the process. 
    If you have been seeing your fonts used by a UK company and cannot find the licensing trail, I suggest you comb through all your sales records for Jason's name, and you may have your answer there. I don't think he will stop his brazen thievery until he gets sued out of business, like that one guy in upstate New York who operated in a similar fashion for decades before Berthold found out about him a few years ago.
    The irony. I found this sponsored article where he gives advice on how to license fonts.

    And I can certainly recall seeing fontpeople in one of the sales reports, but I haven't been able to retrieve it because Monotype hasn't fully migrated the information to their new platform.