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Ending the Type Network / Monotype Partnership

MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 31
edited April 22 in Type Business
I sent this message to our Type Network foundry partner roster last week. I don't assume it's of interest to everyone, but I wanted to share it and invite a discussion. You can also reach me directly at matthew at typenetwork dot com. 

--Matthew

Ending the Partnership Between Type Network and Monotype

Effective July 1, 2024, the partnership between Type Network and Monotype will end. Type Network will no longer sell Monotype fonts. With this transition, Font Bureau is fully separated from Type Network. The two companies have no business relationship. 

This change won’t affect most of our foundry partners directly, but I feel it’s important to share some thoughts about it.

Monotype holds tremendous power in our industry. It was important for Type Network to explore ways we could work together. Today, it's clear that continuing a relationship with Monotype is not the right choice.

What changed?

Type Network represents the world’s best independent type designers. Our goal is to find opportunities for them to grow in ways that align with our shared values. 

After a hard look, we’ve decided that a continued partnership with Monotype is not compatible with those values.

First, we are alarmed by Monotype’s increasingly aggressive and litigious approach to customers. Mutual clients have shared accounts of sudden demands for enormous settlements over alleged infringements. Some report an unpleasant experience triggered by minor or accidental misuse, supported by dubious evidence, and followed by thinly veiled threats of litigation.

Infringement is never acceptable, especially not by large companies who know better. Neither, though, can we tolerate the lasting damage being caused by these escalating practices, which pose a threat to the future of our industry. 

Only a monopoly behaves this way, secure in the presumption that customers have no alternative. Clients, as a result, are growing mistrustful of all licensed fonts. They are fleeing to the safety of free fonts (and soon, probably, to AI-generated copies). More than one company has described to us this cause and effect: A short-term settlement with Monotype, followed by a company-wide ban on licensed fonts. 

The prevalence of exclusive “house brands” in Monotype products should also concern us. Owning the majority of the IP in a marketplace while also selling it is a recipe for ethical compromise. 

Monotype’s partner program, which excludes foundries from pursuing licensing big opportunities with partners like TN who sell to corporate clients, is also a clear attempt to perpetuate their monopoly.

What’s next?

Our partners put their trust in Type Network. The separation from Font Bureau clarifies our intent to represent each partner equally. Our new partner agreement also codifies freedom and flexibility for foundries to choose the partners who are best suited for them.

Our clients and partners both expect to be treated with honesty, courtesy, and respect. Clients want to talk to font experts who bring real expertise to the conversation. Foundries expect to be treated as equals, and with complete honesty. 

Foundries make difficult and important choices when they select distributors to represent them. Each tries to make the choice that’s right for them. We know you consider that as you choose your own partners. 

Type Network is far from perfect, but we are working for a sustainable future for independent type designers and foundries. 

We’re just getting started on that journey, and we appreciate your support as we take this important step. 

 Sincerely . . . 

 —Matthew 

CEO, Type Network

Comments

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    k.l.k.l. Posts: 109
    MrEchs said:
    With this transition, Font Bureau is fully separated from Type Network. The two companies have no business relationship.
    Given the announcement is about MT/TN, how does the FB/TN separation fit in, isn’t this a different story?
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    John ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 254
    Furthermore, what, if any, present relationships are there between Type Network and Font Bureau, Type Network and The Type Founders, and Font Bureau and The Type Founders? This is more out of curiosity than any sort of suspicion, to be clear.
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    MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 31
    edited April 22
    Curiosity is welcome! The industry has witnessed an extraordinary transfer of wealth from type designers to Monotype's investors. We need more skepticism of business interests, not less. A healthy mistrust of distributors will make our job at Type Network a little more difficult, but it will be good for business in the long run.

    Font Bureau fonts designed by David Berlow were transferred to Monotype in May of 2023. Type Network continued to sell them for a while. That's coming to an end as described above. Some FB fonts were transferred back to their designers who are still TN foundry partners. 

    TTF is also a TN foundry partner. Some former employees and co-founders are at TTF, and some are still minority owners and board members of TN. However, TTF's business relationship with Type Network is no different than any other foundry.

    I have no knowledge of the Font Bureau/TTF relationship. Someone from those companies could address that better. 

    Edit: I removed some words about FB fonts that reverted to the designers -- I had some facts wrong. I clarified the involvement of some TTF people in TN, which was also discussed in an earlier thread.  

    --Matthew
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    Matthew, could you please clarify who left whom? Above it seems like it was Type Network that ended the agreement with Monotype, but in the partner email from Roger Black, he said the opposite.

    From the post on this thread:
    "After a hard look, we’ve decided that a continued partnership with Monotype is not compatible with those values."

    But Roger said:

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    MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 31
    All good points.

    It's true that some clients won't be completely delighted no matter how we behave during a compliance licensing discussion.

    We represent our foundry partners in these conversations. Our words and actions reflect on them. From my perspective that doesn't leave room for shenanigans. 

    We also try to always talk to the client about the typeface, the foundry, and the designer -- not just the license -- for as long as we can get them to listen.

    We want every client to know that there is a person behind the font. The person has a body of work, and that work has both artistic and commercial qualities. 

    We want to be talking about the type, not just the license, and try to be sure they leave the conversation knowing a bit more than when they came. That's the goal, anyway. 



     
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