The FJ vs. H lawsuit thread.



  • Even now on the website, the lists of trademarks and intellectual property are described as belonging to "The Hoefler Type Foundry, Inc., d/b/a Hoefler & Frere-Jones, ('H&FJ' or 'we')." The name of FJ is intrinsically linked to the property and trademarks. If H's attorney could have made the name go away, I'm sure he would have, but you can't when registrations have been filed. Unless FJ signed some kind of employment agreement in which he explicitly permitted his name to be used on trademarks (he's a little more specific than "Wendy") without any rights under law, which would have been unusual to the point of major weirdness, the whole case is open season. They can either kiss and make up or be forced to sell, unless H has a huge pile of dough behind him. The trademarks are fully active and aren't subject to statutes of limitations. They have serious value both in the aggregate and individually--take Gotham, for example.

    H&FJ has become a really valuable brand, far more so than HTF, a name that receded into the background. I would argue that the notoriety of this lawsuit has made it more so. How many type foundries come close in public recognition beyond a circle of type users? Matthew Carter's name certainly has that kind of stature, but he's in a class of his own, his place in history secure. Adobe is a giant brand, but it's big and diversified. People know Font Bureau, but not as widely, and they recognize the name of Linotype. I would say that, as a brand, Monotype once had more value than it does today, even though it's a public company that does a lot things. It depends more on mergers and acquisitions for its growth than it does on trading on its name. It is, perhaps, better known in the B2B and OEM world. As for Bitstream, by the time it was acquired by Monotype it had nearly become a name of the past. How many people still know the name Berthold, which was around a lot longer than Bitstream? FontShop was, I think, nearly a major brand, but became hard to pin down, as if the management had lost its concentration. Staying focused is very difficult when you have a big library and changing formats; you might be able to sell some things twice, but not all of it and rarely three times, so the labor costs for renewing the library hits a point of diminishing returns very quickly. The engineers don't mind, but the artists come to feel the romance has been lost.

    Part of the brand problem with type foundries is that all the big ones sell each other's stuff, thereby diluting their identities. Not so with H&FJ, who sell only their own stuff, which can be purchased only from them. That was a very good strategy, but it can only be done with a curated library of exceedingly high-quality and original work, without the usual dross that fills the catalogs of the big foundries. House Industries comes to mind as similarly smart group. I believe others can follow their example, if they don't drown themselves in junk and libre fonts. And there's still room for excellent independents, particularly those who do specialty work. I think of the first-class work, work of real distinction, done by people such as Fred Smeijers, Mário Feliciano, Mark van Bronkhorst, and some others.

    The brand value of H&FJ is such that it's not hard to see how both parties might come out very well from this. They're still young and have plenty of future. They can start over again as rich guys.

    I hereby resign from this thread--unless, of course, I have the opportunity to say, "I told you so."

  • Lots of coverage of this everywhere. I have as yet not weighed in. I think I will continue not weighing in. ;-)
  • ScottMartin: ‘I believe others can follow their example […]

    The Dutch Type Library is ‘proudly independent’ since 1990:
  • Momentarily out of retirement to offer an apology to Frank. DTL is a splendid example of a truly independent path pursued with excellence. And I feel I gave short shrift to my friends at Adobe, whose commitment to high craftsmanship has always been exemplary. I've had the pleasure of working with them as a consultant and I couldn't help but feel I learned more from them than they did from me.

    Back to retirement, at least until next time.
  • DTL is a splendid example of a truly independent path pursued with excellence.


    […] my friends at Adobe, whose commitment to high craftsmanship has always been exemplary.

  • ...If anything good comes out of this, it would be the publicity both sides will earn.

    I doubt this notoriety will help either of them.
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    edited March 2014
    Hoefler is pleading that Tobias lawsuit be dismissed under the statute of limitations, and that this kind of oral agreement is not valid.
  • Glad to see that our national pastime has resumed for the season.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,774
    The question at the centre of it all: Why in heck Tobias would have signed this, giving away all rights to a large body of work for $10.
  • Alex KaczunAlex Kaczun Posts: 153
    For the same reason he waited 9-14 years to press his point.

    And, if you read...
    11. Relationship of the Parties.
    The Parties to this Agreement are independent entities. This Agreement is not intended to be, nor shall it be construed as a joint venture, partnership, or other form of business organization.

    I'm not a lawyer... but, this pretty much says it all. As I said earlier, before you sign anything—get yourself a lawyer.
  • It's appalling, for sure, but stay tuned, sports fans. There will be a response by April 4, and there's no way to know what kind of documents will be presented. Also, there's a lot of case law that runs counter the list that was presented by the defense. I highly doubt the case will be dismissed on grounds of statute of limitations, as TFJ was working there until recently. The dismissal motion was just a shot.
  • If something were to "be construed as construed as restricting" is that what they mean by reconstrution of restriction?
  • Tobias Frere-Jones' legal team has filed its response to Jonathan Hoefler's last filing in the form of their Opposition and Affadavit: York County Supreme Court

    A little taste... "My new (and still as-yet-unannounced) partnership with Tobias Frere-Jones has opened the floodgates for new work."

    Enjoy your weekends, everyone.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,825
    Thanks for keeping us up to date.
  • I don't know how good it is. I've never use the word "totally" and I never was the director of the "Type Designers Group", whatever that is. I wonder how accurate the rest of the information is.
  • The domain name poaching was some juicy new info. Preemptive competitive sabotage, New Jersey politics style.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,478
    Type Directors, the Illuminati of the font world.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,206
    In the photo caption, they did not identify Sumner Stone and Mr Berlow. I guess they assumed this was not relevant.
  • Type Directors Club, Type Designers Group, whatever :)
  • "Second verse, same as the first" To quote Herman and the Hermits...

    Yesterday, Jonathan Hoefler's lawyers filed a Memorandum of Law in Reply to Tobias Frere-Jones' lawyers last Affidavit.

    Once again, motions to dismiss on several counts, many of which are the same as before, and some in response to the last affidavit.

    A taste from Page 2: "The same is true of the fraud claim (Fifth Cause of Action), where the standard for accrual is an objective one—when a reasonable person would have been on inquiry notice— not the subjective standard that Frere-Jones suggests. It was unreasonable as a matter of law for Frere-Jones to delay suit ten years to 2014 when, as of 2004, there was allegedly nothing left but for Hoefler to execute an uncomplicated transfer of equity that could have been done in a matter of minutes."
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,206
    So in other words, because Tobias did not send a collection agency after Jonathan in 2004 and was cutting him some slack, he gets screwed in 2014?
  • The message of this latest argument seems to be: if you are gullible enough for long enough, the law doesn't protect you. I hope that's not true.
  • To me, it's remarkable that the gist of the response seemingly centres on the time elapsed, while not denying the wrongdoing in the first place.
  • Chris, Jan: I think in the current phase of the proceedings, it would not benefit Jonathan to deny, unless he can categorically (and with proof) deny Tobias’s statements. All that the Hoefler defence has to do is list reasons why the case should be dismissed. This was legally quite expected, and every response from Hoefler so far has been in the same vein.

    Obviously, without an outright denial, we fill in the gaps with our own imagination. But we wouldn’t be happy with outright denial either — then what? “I did! Did not! Did so!”
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,825
    Jan: As I understand it, motions to dismiss in the USA are required by their very definition to take as given that everything in the complaint is true, but even so, it can't stand up for legal reasons. That's the basis for dismissing a case without hearing it. If there is any disagreement on facts, the “truth” has to be determined by the litigation process.

    So at this stage, every activity pertaining to the motions to dismiss, by Hoefler’s attorneys must take as true, for the sake of argument, all the points of fact stated by FJ’s attorneys. They can only disagree on how the law applies to those facts.

    Leastways, that is how I understand it. Of course, I am not a lawyer, etc.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,774
    What Thomas said. This is explicit in both of the motions to dismiss.
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