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Erik Spiekermann's statements re Berthold

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We were disappointed, but not surprised, that Erik Spiekermann, a noted and respected type designer and author, would knowingly make false and misleading statements regarding Berthold in a public forum.

As such statements affect the reputation of Berthold Types, I am responding with this posting. I attach a letter dated June 3, 2004, to Mr. Spiekermann explaining the actual facts behind the continuation of H. Berthold's type business by Berthold Types. This letter is from Berthold Types Limited's German attorneys because the subject matter involves German law. We arranged for the attached English translation.

Although the letter to Mr. Spiekermann addresses the myths and misconceptions perpetuated by Mr. Spiekermann's comments, I would like to make a few points:

1. Berthold Designers
Mr. Spiekermann states that Berthold Types has no contracts with any of the original Berthold designers even though he is well aware of the agreement with Guenter Gerhard Lange. Mr. Spiekermann, a friend of Mr. Lange, tried to persuade Mr. Lange against working with Berthold Types but failed.

Contrary to Mr. Spiekermann's statement, Berthold Types has agreements with Guenter Gerhard Lange, Bernd Moellenstaedt, Dieter Hofrichter, Orjan Nordling and Prof. Werner Schneider.

--Mr. Lange (at 83) is working on new typefaces for Berthold Types; having completed Whittingham in 2001 and additions to his other typefaces (Bodoni Old Face and Imago). He also has a new typeface yet to be released and has embarked on another large typeface project for Berthold Types. Mr. Lange as artistic consultant is actively involved in future type releases by Berthold.

--Mr. Moellenstaedt has created a new, large typeface family for Berthold Types (yet to be released) as well as preparing additional offerings of Formata.

--Prof. Schneider recently completed and Berthold Types released his Senatus typeface.

--Mr. Hofrichter works on many projects for Berthold's type program and works closely with Berthold Types to insure the continued quality of the Berthold type program. He works directly with GGL on all his new releases.

All of the contracts between H. Berthold AG and the designers specifically stated that when a typeface design falls into the public domain the obligation by Berthold to pay royalities ceases. Berthold Types offered to pay designers nonetheless. Notwithstanding, Hans Reichel chose to release a reworking of Barmeno.

Interestingly, according to H. Berthold's royalty worksheet, Mr. Spiekermann was never paid royalties on an ongoing basis for Berliner Grotesk and LoType.

2. Registration of Berthold's Trademarks
Mr. Spiekermann also implies that any company could simply register H. Berthold's trademarks. This is simply not true.

The Type division of H. Berthold was a separated in October 1991 and the Type assets were "leased" back to H. Berthold by a consortium of banks. The Type division was not a part of the H. Berthold AG bankruptcy in 1993 and was separate from Berthold's other businesses. Berthold Types acquired the type assests (e.g. the trademarks as well as other IP rights -- see the attached letter) through the chain of title through these banks, not through bankruptcy.

Accordingly, contrary to Mr. Spiekermann's statements, over 80 German trademark registrations, and numerous UK and US registrations, were assigned through the "chain of title" from H. Berthold AG to Berthold Types, including the "Berthold in a red square logo" and the "H. Berthold" trademarks.

3. Protection of Berthold's IP Rights
Mr. Spiekermann states that Berthold Types has been "suing dozens of people with frivolous cases which have cost me and other designers and foundries millions of dollars (and I am not exaggerating)."

It's a myth. In fact, Berthold Types has filed only twelve lawsuits two of which were against FSI/FontShop (both for trademark infringement). Mr. Spiekermann cannot provide any basis supporting losses of "millions of dollars." Type is just not that large of a business.

If Mr. Spiekermann wants to debate: Stick to the facts, please.


Harvey Hunt
Berthold Types Limited

Spiekermann_Translation.pdf (91.9 k)
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>If Mr. Spiekermann wants to debate:<

Does one start a debate by sending a letter from an attorney before joining an online discussion?
Not in my book. And i am not going to discuss any more details, as i know that would only result in more threatening letters. As hhp has pointed out: those letters are enough to cause trouble. If there have been "only" one dozen actual court cases, everybody can easily extrapolate how many letters must have been sent.

I will substantiate everything i wrote, but not in a public forum because i don't need any more letters from Chicago. This forum is for open discussions. Preceding a posting by legal action does not qualify as a contribution.

Draw your own conclusions.

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titus n.

dear mr. spiekermann, you are perfectly right:

>This forum is for open discussions

so please keep it like this. dont let yourself be frightend away by some advocat. we have to fight corporate censorship, whether it concerns our media or information about the behavior of a, at least suspect, type foundry.
am i wrong, when i guess that someone with your reputation doesn't have to fear much, as long as he stays in a legal area?

und sch

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I am happy to see that the president of Berthold has posted on this forum. Although, I must agree with Mr. Spiekermann and the others here: posting a response on this forum would have been a more polite first step than having an attorney draft a letter and send it to him first.

I think that the public exchange of opinion over the internet is one it's biggest perks. While it is obvious that Mr. Spiekermann's opinion of Berthold is not a positive one, I do not think that his statements were libelous or defamatory. (He is certainly entitled to his opinion, and he is also entitled to propogate it politely) Also, we are only looking at a few short posts on an online forum. I think, if someone with Mr. Spiekerman's gravitas in the type community wanted to go to war with Berthold, he easily could. And he wouldn't need do it via banter on an online forum. Berthold is certainly aware of this. I don't understand their ultra-protectionary, overtly legal-feeling reaction.

B.Gibbs has an interesting point, too. Monotype, Linotype, FontShop, E+F, and many other founderies all have presences at large type events and activities. Their designers all lecture, too. Is Berthold not doing this because it can't afford the costs? At TYPO Berlin, the Managing Director of Linotype, talking about piracy protection, said that the best way to prevent piracy is through technological and design innovation.

He didn't say that the best method was sending out cease-and-desist letters.

I wonder what the impression of Berthold on this forum would be if it had spent the money required for its 12 lawsuits, or even the legal and translation fees necessary for the letter to Mr. Spiekermann, on product marketing instead?

(However, Mr. Spiekermann, it is well-known that Linotype and many other foundries do file law suits to protect their work from piracy. I am assuming that FontShop does this as well. Can you tell me if cease-and-desist letters are common in our industry? Berthold may or may not have sent out too many, but how many are sent out by their competitors?)

hallo Titus! sch

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Titus, unfortunately being legal offers only partial protection. Being inconspicuous is much more effective. :-/


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titus n.

gorod - russian for city.

hrant, unfortunately you are right. but being inconspicous doesn't have a positive impact on the situation, more likely it makes it even worse, letting (in this case) corporations be successful with their scare-tactics.

"there can't be a revolution in germany, because for that purpose, you'd have to step on the lawn." (very free translation)


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[...snipped legal eagle dung...]
Here's the correspondence:

If it weren't so depressingly sad, you'd have to laugh at the cheek of it all.

Sure, we need rules, but it's pretty obvious that lawyers are part of the problem far more than they are part of the answer - especially in the US.

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William Berkson

I find it striking that all the complaints here of abusing the law to intimidate small foundries or exploit designers are against Berthold, and not against Adobe or Linotype or FontShop or Fontbureau. This makes me suspect-I have no knowledge-that there is some foundation to the complaints, even though some may be not sound.

If Berthold wants to make their case in the court of type-world opinion, they had better explain why so many people seem to be angry with them in particular.

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The point of this thread is to discuss publically the difference between intelectual property rights of the designer, copyright infringement, and bullyism. This thread is not a forum to discuss Hrant or his already well documented political feelings. Propaganda extremists of all persuasions often use a cheap trick to diffuse criticism and point blame at some convenient scapegoat. Their point is to swing the conversation to something else to divert attention and replace it with an attack on either the original source or to dump on anyone close enough. Willie Horton was used this way in the Dukakis campaign. The Jews in the 30s were used this way to take the heat away from the new Nazi government.
The ploy always involves a nameless heckler to act as a distraction and keep everyone from going back to the real issue.

How about if we just ignore the heckler(s) and confine discussion to the original intent of this thread and not respond at all to the heckler?
(I'll bet that I am the next victim, within seconds of my posting this)

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In my opinion, this issue has nothing to do with the Nazis, Jews, or the second World War. These are not only off topic additions/comments, they could also poison discussion to the extent that Berthold and/or Mr. Spiekermann would no longer respond to the points discussed above.

I would really, really, like to hear from Mr. Hunt, and hear his opinion about Berthold's opinion in the design community. Perhaps he thinks that we are a bunch of nuts, and taht our opinions are not representative. Perhaps he even has sales figures to back that up! I don't know. But I would really like to know...

I would also like to hear how many lawsuits FontShop has filed, or something similiar, to use as a point of comparison. If FSI has filed 24 lawsuits in the same time period that Berthold filed 12, that says something. If they filed 2, that says something else.

Hrant, we all know your opinions about the US Government, and its legal system. In some respects, you are right, especially when it comes to Type and its protection. EU courts offer type designs and foundries much more protection, I think.

However, bashing the US court system, is not so relevant to this topic, I think. Many of the lawsuits in discussion were filed in European courts, so the US and its benefits/fallacies, play little effect.

Also, I think that "Trademarking" something is more of an international process now than a national one.

Again, lets talk about Berthold. Perhaps they really are the demon of the type world. Perhaps we are mistaken in our opinion. I don't think that we will learn anything about these questions from discussing the ideals of democracy, or the prelude to the Holocaust.

(As I side note, I'll bite that I am very interested in talking about democracy in general, the US court system in particular, or even the treatment of Jews by the Nazi government from 1933 to 1945! But I'd rather do it in another thread, preferably one under General Discussion.

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> I would really, really, like to hear from Mr. Hunt

Yes. Otherwise one might be excused for thinking the worst, including that this was just an effort at spin control, at silencing the calls for people not to buy Berthold fonts, or maybe even a means to entrap people and sue them for libel. I hope those assumptions would be all wrong, but certainly the first step towards that would be cogent replies to our questions.


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In answer to Dan's question:
FontShop International filed a lawsuit against Brendel for pirating FontFonts using different names; we won the case thus establishing copyright protection for fonts under German law.This was a few years ago.
We have never filed a law suit because of name issues. I remember one instance where we asked another foundry to change the name of their product as it was identical (not similar, IDENTICAL); we did so politely without threats (real or implied) though with the help of a lawyer. If there were more instances, I cannot remember but they would have been handled the same way. We do send cease&desist letters, mainly to internet providers who host pirate sites.
Petra Weitz, FontShop International

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What is a reasonable and fair policy for a foundry?
-Fairness to the designers who developed their products and their reputation in the market place?
-Fairness to the customer both in the quality of their product and in the honesty of their business dealings?
-Fairness to their workers and owners to make a fair profit and provide a fair wage?
-Fairness to their competition (no matter how small) to not use bullying tactics and frivolous litigation as a means of eliminating potential competition?

I just throw these out as questions, not as proclamations of truth. I would be interested in having anyone with a real name respond and help define what would be the qualities that customers and designers (sometimes one and the same) would admire in the type world. This would apply to we designers as well. We too have a responsibility for fairness.


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> Perhaps that is why Erik Spiekermann will not respond in this forum. <

No, it is not. It is much simpler. but going into it may cost me a lot of money in lawyers' fees again. The officers of FontShop International are restrained from discussing certain legal issues. This goes back to a certain foundry in Illinois selling fonts but keeping the money due to some small legal clause in the contract. The licensor in Berlin had to pay the original designers, of course, plus lots and lots of lawyers' fees. This is where me mentioning seven digits came from. While i am not an officer of FSI. but simply a shareholder, that said outfit by the lake is very trigger-happy and even has a family member who belongs to the legal profession, making it easy to issue writs and all manner of legal proceedings which usually require at least a reply by another lawyer, in English. And that costs money, lots. Most of the suits are frivolous: there is a typeface called Signata. There is another face called Signa, the 2 look not a bit alike, but a letter was written asking to change that name as it would infringe upon the rights of that foundry by the lake. Which itself has another font named Signal which apparently cannot be confused with Signata, while Signa can.

FSI has pursued pirates, people who simply copy FontFonts and offer them under a different name. If someone offered a font named Unite, i wouldn't give a damn, as long as it wasn't a copy of my own FF Unit. The people who couldn't tell one from the other would never spend money on a font anyway.

And about the designers who now work for a certain...:

They're all people in Munich who used to work for B and seem to have no choice in order to protect their investment. And some are simply blind to what's going on because they don't want to see 50 years of their lives going down the drain.

And why would a certain gentleman not appear at typo events? Because he cheated and still cheats designers out of their money, and they all know it and let him know that they know.

And i do know what goes on at B in C, as i do know what has been going on at B in B since the mid-60s. I designed most of their literature, reworked the logo and the corporate design in the 80s, made my first typefaces for them, wrote a book for them and was friends with their designers, managers and technicians here in Berlin.

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> Perhaps that is why Erik Spiekermann will not respond in this forum.

Nah - it's probably the same reason anonymity is rampant here: avoiding being sued.

> The worst that you can say is that Spiekermann exaggerated

Or the best you can say is that maybe he delved to the heart of the matter, beyond the legalistic worminess.


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One of my professors was a young type designer with Berthold in the 1980s. Her take on the reason that Berthold died was that its marketing focus was all wrong.

She said that, while Linotype and Monotype, as well as newer foundries, began marketing their new, digital type directly to designers, Berthold insisted on marketing primarially to traditional buyers of type, i.e., the same sort of people who bought film fonts, DTPers, printers, etc.

Linotype and Monotype survived the 1990s by working with other companies in the tech. sector, and buy selling directly to the customer (although they were both[?] bought by other, larger companies

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As you recall there was a business dispute between Fontshop USA (a Fontshop distributor not a foundry) and FSI Fonts und Software GmbH, and your remarks seem to refer to that.

The dispute was resolved in the form of a Settlement Agreement that FSI insisted to be confidential. Anyway, you address something which is not related to Berthold and does not matter in this context at all.

Further, you after all should be aware of the terms of the agreement. If fulfilled the designers should have received their money which as you know was not millions of dollars. I fulfilled my part.

For sake of respect, please defer from insulting Mr. Lange and Mr. Moellenstaedt. And, just for clarification. The designer contracts relate to old and new typefaces.

Finally, Berthold offered and still offers a contract to anybody who had original designer agreements with H. Berthold AG.

Harvey Hunt

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1) You cited 5 designers with whom you have a valid business relationship. How many other designers are represented in your library? How would you describe the relationship with the rest?

2) "Berthold Types has filed only twelve lawsuits". May we please know how many "cease and desist" and other what might be informally called "pre-lawsuit" letters you have sent out?


BTW, for reference: During their sue-happy years, Emigre filed far fewer than 12 lawsuits (my guess is 2-3), but they still managed to acquire a negative reputation (in the "social" sphere at least). But to their credit, they recanted.


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If you are the "real" Albert Boton then you are aware of our correspondence. Please click on my name and send me an email directly.

As far as the ATM bundle Adobe had a five+ year royalty free period (as part of the advance it paid to H. Berthold AG) and during this period it "bundled" many of the Berthold typefaces.

After this period expired Adobe primarily stopped bundling the Berthold typefaces.

Harvey Hunt
Berthold Types

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Dear friends,

My sad story is published on http://fontcity.ru/ev.htm

I'm not intended to discuss this topic more.
Last Fall I have sent a letter to Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://eff.org/)
This letter is all I want to publish on given respected forum.
One my Italian friend wrote me:
"Unfortunately the law is on Berthold's side, but what we need is not a lawyer, actually, we need a popular insurrection in the community of designers, it's time to stop this kind of "terrorism".
I think this is the only thing to do. Maybe it will not work, but at least it will put our colleagues in a position where they will need to choose, make a decision: to go with or against Berthold."
I think we have not to serve for laws and courts, but the judgement's goal is to serve for people, for community.
Thank You all.


Dear Sirs,

My name is Igor Shipovsky. I'm a national of Russia.

A year ago I started selling my products (digital typefaces) with the MyFonts.com, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, USA). In August, 2003 I received a complaint from another American company - Berthold Types Limited (Chicago, Illinois). Ms Melissa M. Hunt alleged that the names of my web-site and my fonts do infringe their registered trademark CITY.
My web-site is named 'fontcity.ru'. My fonts are named after Russian cities: 'City of Moskva' (Moskva is Moscow in Russian), 'City of Khabarovsk', 'City of Tsaritsyn', etc.
Ms Hunt alleged that Berthold has registered the TM "CITY" and that my fonts names are a 'colorable imitation' of this TM.

I strongly oppose this position:
- I suppose the word "city" is a generic term and is not a particularly strong TM. Moreover, I am a national of Russia and Berthold has no registered TM in Russia.
- My fonts are performed in an original graphical manner and the whole line of typefaces has its own unique style. There cannot be any confusion between my fonts and the ones of Berthold company.
- Moreover, I use the word "city" in its original lexical meaning, in an illustrative and descriptive way only. This word is a part of a single whole concept I create to present my products. I have created my own unique style including typefaces (the character shapes), their names, description texts, music, animation, pictures, color palette and so on. I invented the new word 'FONTCITY' for naming my web-site.
- I understand, that the names 'Moskva', 'Khabarovsk', 'Tsaritsyn' and so on mean nothing to the most of people, not only Americans, but Russians too. I can't delete or substitute the word "city" without distortion of the names' sense.
- I can't name my fonts in Russian because there are certain rules requiring to use the numbers and English letters only for this purpose.

As I know, many companies and persons were urged to change the names of their fonts by Berthold. All of them do not accept the accusations but to avoid possible costs of litigation had to follow instructions from Berthold.
Here are the links to their stories:
http://www-cgrl.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/berthold.html - the victims list
http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/hunt-nazaroff.html - Berthold vs Jamie Nazaroff
http://typographi.ca/000500.php - Zang-o-fonts: "The Schoolyard Bullies Never Go Away"
http://www-cgrl.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/bertholdvsnick.html - Berthold vs Nick Curtis
http://typographi.ca/000682.php - Berthold vs Cape-Arcona (typographi.ca's forum)
http://typophile.com/forums/messages/30/16157.html - typophile.com's forum
http://www.internet-law.ru/forum/index.php?board=10;action=display;threadid=196;start=0 - internet-law.ru's forum

Recently my American partner, the MyFonts.com, Inc. decided to suspend selling my fonts.
I believe Berthold's actions constitute unfair competition and abuse of intellectual property rights. They are filing lawsuits against small-sized companies and independent font developers worldwide.

I have no money and possibility to file a lawsuit against Berthold. However I am firmly convinced that Berthold isn't right. Your organization is well-known for protecting legitimate rights of consumers and businesses alike in the digital age.
I would appreciate any kind of assistance or guidelines concerning the matter in question.

You can find more information on my web-site: http://fontcity.ru/ev.htm

Thank You.
Igor Shipovsky.

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Igor has convinced me that there's nothing good about Berthold. Their business model seems one built solely on legal scare tactics.

Granted, the USPTO is to blame as well by allowing such inane TMs as 'city'.

Hopefuly Berthold will learn that them being right/wrong in the legal sense really has nothing to do with their standing in the community.

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Don't buy Berthold. Such scare tactics don't deserve our financial support.

It is a pity, Mr. Hunt, that you have managed to even retain five of your predecessor company's collection of designers. Somehow, I suspect that they are not aware of all of your actions.

Mr Schneider, at least, has type we can buy through more reputable foundries. I don't know about any of the other four...

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