Second opinion: Plagiarism or inspiration of 2 of my typefaces

Amy HoodAmy Hood Posts: 22
edited December 2023 in Type Business
Recently a designer released a font called Taxi Driver that I immediately recognized used forms of my font, Palm Canyon Drive, seemingly just with shorter ascenders and descenders. Then I realized it actually directly traced forms from two of my typefaces, Palm Canyon Drive and Beverly Drive Right. See graphic attached where I overlayed my letters (in green and black) on his (in the rust color). He picked and chose from the two, blending. 

  • Some forms are clearly traced over as width and form is exact. He has shown this is part of his process before in this instagram reel he made. 
  • Even the letters that aren't a direct copy (Q and O) still take the overall vibe
  • the weighting of the monoline feel exact to Palm Canyone Drive while most of the forms are from Beverly Drive.
  • He follows us so it feels unlikely this is just a coincidence. 

Do I have grounds to reach out to him and ask him to take down if it blends two things?  Or is this a loophole or even totally fine to do? 

Screened and multiplied on top so you can see original underneath:


  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,128
    edited December 2023
    Manual tracing, despite being plagiarism, is legal in the USA, as the original font software data is not modified to create the derivative work. At least, that is my non-lawyer understanding.

    Did he licence the font from you?
    What does your EULA say about copying? (I couldn’t find it on your web site).

    If his font uses your metrics (“font data”), that goes beyond plagiarism. 

    At any rate, certainly, contact him and let him know about the mistake he has made.
  • Good call on checking if he's purchased the font @Nick Shinn! One of the fonts is on Adobe Fonts (Beverly Drive) so he may have gotten it there because there's no record he purchased from our site (which almost adds insult to injury). We have a couple lines in our EULA that go: "Licensee is not purchasing the copyright to the design or any other part of the Fonts. The copyright lies with its original designer, Hoodzpah, Inc." and a line about the structure being valuable IP to our company. 

    Thanks for the advice, Nick.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,704
    edited December 2023
    So, first off, is it plagiarism? Sure feels like it. Whether legal or not, it is certainly ethically questionable to rip off the design from a living designer who is still licensing the font to users, and then resell it. But it seems like this guy in his video was only doing so with permission, and not reselling the results. Quite different!

    The current state of copyright for vector fonts in the USA is debated, but the major players in the font biz continue to do business as if they are subject to copyright. But if it involves redrawing over the same shapes, it would not appear to infringe on that possible copyright—any US copyright is strictly on the produced vector outlines.

    Nick seems to imply that the metrics are protected or protectible. I believe that is definitely not the case in the USA, and not in most jurisdictions as far as I know. If they were protected, then metrics-compatible fonts would be the subject of actual legal action and not just teeth-gnashing, and the major players would have sued each other over it. Oh wait, they DID, and lost. (When Monotype made metrics-compatible equivalents to the core PostScript fonts, for Microsoft in the early 90s, and ITC and Linotype sued Monotype.)

    Design patents are another form of protection in the USA, and definitely apply to the shapes. But people rarely apply for them, they cost money and are of quite limited duration.

    @Amy Hood I would be happy to give some in-person (well, phone or video call) thoughts and feedback if you wanted to. I will drop you a note.
  • I had to laugh a bit at the end of the guy's Instagram reel. He spent a full 12 hours on the typeface and it still looked like trash? Gee, he must be a really bad type designer ;)
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 722
    edited December 2023
    "Our script font is finally here and to be honest, kerning it nearly gave me an aneurysm".

    The kerning:

        pos o h 6;
        pos o i -2;
        pos o j -3;
        pos o n -2;
        pos o o 2;
        pos o r 15;
        pos o s 3;
        pos o u 6;
        pos o x 9;

    I don't think that was done by a human.
  • I think he may not know what kerning actually means :/ 
  • That's so generous @Thomas Phinney! I will definitely take you up on that offer. 

    Really appreciate all the insights shared here already. 

  • I included the tracing video more to share that tracing seems to be a part of his process. But yes, since he got that person's permission in that specific video, it's fine that he did it in that case. Just makes me wonder even more if he did trace our fonts. 
  • Big thanks for everyone's input and help here! Really appreciate this community and learn so much from it. 
  • If he tries selling it on MyFonts, you should definitely report it. I'm pretty sure they would take it down after a mere glance at your evidence.
  • Related, this was just released on MyFonts:

    This was released over a decade ago by me:

    Shocking only that the character map preview image shows so clearly all he did was a vertical squoosh and some minor tweaks.

    I'm writing MyFonts today and will report how they handle it, I also need to look and see where this knucklehead has his knockoff version of my font posted to request its removal
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 994
    edited December 2023
    Bandbox is not quite a Lobster, but it is a poor replica of Éclat.

  • John ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 240
    edited December 2023
    Looks like someone at MyFonts took down Snifter Straight already. That’s encouraging.
  • Stuart SandlerStuart Sandler Posts: 348
    edited December 2023
    @John Butler every reseller that offered Snifter for sale removed the font within a day of my writing and I didn't need to submit any DMCA notices to have the font removed. Also I believe the designer was forwarded one of my e-mails and he may have been the party to assure swift removal.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,389
    Well spotted, Stephen!!
  • IMHO, @Stephen Coles both Bandbox and Lobster and poor lookalikes of Doyald Young's Home Run
  • John ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 240
    Interesting. The last time you brought up Doyald Young vs Lobster, Pablo posted this long reply:

    ...and then you had essentially nothing to say in response to it.

  • I did not continue the discussion with Pablo for two reasons: he confirmed that Lobster is based on Home Run and that the original design is better. The second reason is that by his own admission (and the disturbing nature of many of his statements) he is having psychiatric issues and, to be honest, I don't like to debate in these circumstances.
  • Yves MichelYves Michel Posts: 143
    ... to be honest, I don't like to debate in these circumstances.
    Maybe you're right but I don't like to debate with a  mask.
Sign In or Register to comment.