TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Fri Apr 20 08:04:10 EDT 2018






Myriad and Frutiger

Just recording what many typographers already know. Adrian Frutiger published his Frutiger family at Linotype, and soon afterwards, in 1992, Adobe published its Myriad family (Carol Twombly, Robert Slimbach, Fred Brady). Adrian Frutiger became furious because of the obvious similarities. Adobe kept defending by pinpointing minor differences (such as in the B). One of the testimonials is by Lucas de Groot (see this and this PDF file). The discussion at Typographica (link on the left) confirms the story to some extent, although it also talks about the Ludlow fonts Adrian and Context, which were virtual copies of Frutiger, and which disappeared from the MyFonts and Ludlow sites quite quickly. See also here for a comparison between Myriad and Frutiger. The typophiles pick up the discussion. Some quotes from that last exchange.

Nick Shinn: If it's OK for Adobe and Microsoft to publish similar to typefaces, why cant anybody else in the type community, a tyro for instance, without being raked over the coals? Im asking that question not because I come down firmly on either side, but because I want to hear a plausible explanation for why this situation exists.

Bill Troop: Hasn't it been pretty well-established that Robert and Carol were asked to design a characterless sans, and that it was so bad that Robert basically had to turn it into Frutiger to get it off the ground? And isn't that the point where Carol lost input into the basic design? [...] John, the pages of text argument aren't Frutiger and Myriad is a good one, but it is also fatally flawed: you can't have pages of great-looking Myriad without having Frutiger first. Slimbachs brief was to design a completely independent, anonymous sans. He couldn't. As Carol has said, It didn't work. None of us were happy with it. As time went on, the design got more and more to look like Frutiger. Is there really anything more to say? She did _not_ say to me, as far as I remember, that made me uncomfortable or I didn't like that, but it was clear she was uncomfortable and didn't like it. Hence her withdrawal to the peripheries of the project. If he had had any talent as a sans serif designer, he could have designed something else something not the fairly recent work of a living designer whose work he knew intimately. He could have designed something that genuinely was original, like Scala Sans. But he didn't, and a few years later he turned around and did the same thing to Volker Kuster with Today Sans Serif. That's the way the guy works. What is really the point of defending people who are stealing and who know they are stealing and who are probably laughing at you for defending them? Its all too sordid! The long and the short of it is that when designs are so close that this kind of passionate argument by real experts can take place, then the designs really are too close. The discussion has no legal effect of course. But neither does it have any moral effect on either Adobe or Robert Slimbach. They have never cared, from the day they made the original presentation to Frutiger, to the day Thomas made his recent presentation, to be either truthful or fully disclosive as regards Myriad. I havent seen the original presentation, but I remember Bruno Steinert discussing it two or three years ago, and he was still all but shaking with rage. From a corporate point of view, you cant realistically ask any of these people to take a different position. What would they look like if they just came out and admitted what happened in the case both of Myriad and of Cronos? But I guess thats the wrong question, because they cant look worse than they do now. Oh, for a breath of candour!

Myriad and Frutiger
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David and Goliath ⦿ Choice of fonts ⦿

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1976 Poster by Grace Heitmann 2015

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1975 Poster by Kelsey Coleman 2016c

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1975 Poster by Kelsey Coleman 2016d

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1975 Poster by Kelsey Coleman 2016e

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1975 Poster by Kelsey Coleman 2016g

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1975 Poster by Kelsey Coleman 2016h

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1975 Poster by Ciprian D21 2015

file name: Adrian Frutiger Frutiger 1968 Poster by Nevin Mizelle 2014

Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html