Commercial use of fonts and typefaces
Produced in partnership with Jessica Stretch
Commercial use of fonts and typefaces

The following IP practice note Produced in partnership with Jessica Stretch provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Commercial use of fonts and typefaces
  • Fonts and typefaces—definitions
  • Typeface
  • Font
  • Webfont
  • Fonts and typefaces—intellectual property (IP) rights
  • Copyright
  • Designs
  • Trade marks
  • Sourcing fonts and typefaces—legal issues
  • More...

Typefaces are a key component of a brand’s identity, using a unique typeface helps a business to distinguish itself from its competitors. Many businesses will select or create a typeface to use across print and digital media to help foster consistency and build a recognisable brand.

This Practice Note provides legal and practical advice on fonts and typefaces. It covers the following topics:

  1. Fonts and typefaces—definitions

  2. Fonts and typefaces—intellectual property (IP) rights

  3. Sourcing fonts and typefaces—legal issues, and common licence terms and issues with sourcing fonts and typefaces

Fonts and typefaces—definitions

The distinction between the terms font and typeface is important from a legal point of view (see section on ‘IP protection’ below) but in practice the terms are often used interchangeably.

Typeface

A ‘typeface’ is a set of letters, numbers and characters designed with a specific and consistent style resulting in the appearance of the text. Times New Roman is a well-known typeface.

Font

In a digital context, a ‘font’ is a computer file or program that determines how a letter or character will display on screen or when printed. A selection of fonts is installed on computers as standard, giving the user a choice of different typefaces (Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial etc). These fonts are ‘web safe’ in that all computers will recognise the fonts and render them as intended. Alternatively, fonts can be custom made which means

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