U.S. Design Patent for Typeface Design

Spring 1997
Frank J. Martinez, Esq.

Inevitably, when artists in any creative endeavor which involves computers get together, the conversation will turn to the nature of your work and money, how to protect your work and money, and piracy and money. However, not necessarily in that order. While at the AtypI Conference in the Hague, I had different versions of this conversation several times. It was, however, the issue of piracy that was most troubling. I kept asking myself, why is it so endemic? How did the situation get this way? Can anything be done to stop it? Are the current schemes of intellectual property laws that ineffective? Are artists taking advantage of the protection that is available?

In this paper I would like to examine legal protection for type by Design Patent. In addition, I would like to explore the factors affecting the value of type. Finally, I would like to suggest additional methods for the protection of type and propose some alternative methods for licensing which could return more value to artists and designers who work with type and, just maybe, help in the fight against piracy.