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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 117370
Experience:  Attorney practicing all aspects of copyright/trademark law
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I received an email to stop using a Licensed font from a

Customer Question

I received an email to stop using a Licensed font from a person in the UK. I am a corporation with a small clothing business in the US. I did use her font as a base for a design on a tshirt however using graphic software the font was altered by warping, stretching it out and adding brush strokes to it to make it more appealing and converting the font to something we could use. I can stop using the font however can she sue for damages?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, using someone's copyrighted work and altering it is called derivative use and still requires their consent. At this point, she is not likely to pursue you in the US, but she could, since this is a violation of the copyright law. Ceasing using the font is the first step to seek to prevent her from suing you for damages. Damages can be quite high in a copyright case, as the statute provides for up to $100,000 per violation, plus attorney's fees. You really should have your local attorney respond to them telling them that you were unaware it was their font and that you will cease and desist and seek to get them agree to let this mistake go. You want an attorney to respond to this because you do not want to say anything they can use against you if they sue. Anything the attorney says on your behalf cannot be used against you in a suit and the attorney will also be able to negotiate with them more to keep them from coming to the US to sue you with your assurance it would no longer be used or they can negotiate a license deal for you to pay them for using their font (which may be reasonable and not cause you to have to change everything in your business).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
its seems the email stated they want an amicable resolution. My contractor (a graphic designer whom is no longer with us) did contact several people in regards ***** ***** licensing about a year ago but i did not like any of the fonts so I told him to come up with altered form of a combination of a few fonts i liked. Would it be safe to email back and simply say. "My graphic designer made several contacts regarding font licensing last year but since i did not like any i told him to use a few as inspiration he altered it thinking it was ok. Now that i know i will stop using the graphic immediately" .... The thing is I really didnt even know what font the designer ended up using until this email and i heard at some point that US doesnt copyright fonts unless its in a software so i did not think that this was an issue. Im thinking about emailing this response and if she comes back again i will involve an attorney/ What do you think?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
So, if you contact them by email, you need to ask them for what they want for a license, offer them something reasonable, since digital fonts can be copyrighted in the US and even if this is not one that could be copyrighted in the US, if it is copyrighted in the UK, pursuant to the copyright treaties the US would have to enforce it. Typically, the right to use it is worth no more than maybe $100.