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Friedlaender versus Microsoft

Reporting on a 1.5 million USD lawsuit brought by Hannah Tal, daughter of Henri Friedlaender who designed the famous Hebrew typeface Hadassah in 1958, against Microsoft. The quotes below, in italics, are from a 2013 article in Winbeta.

Microsoft is apparently facing a lawsuit for using two particular Hebrew type fonts in its Office productivity suite without permission. The fonts in question are Guttman Hodes and Monotype Hadassah.

Henry Friedlander was hiding from the Nazis around 70 years ago were he designed and perfected the Hebrew type font called "Hadassah". His daughter, Hannah, claims that Microsoft is using and advertising the font to millions of users without her permission.

Microsoft responded to her claims stating that her father transferred his rights to the font over to a foundry in the Netherlands in 1950. That foundry then provided licenses to other parties to use the font and eventually transferred the rights to the font to Microsoft. Microsoft denies that Hannah owns any rights to the original font.

Microsoft states, "Friedlander never made any claims during his life about the widespread use of the Hadassah font. On the contrary, he expressed satisfaction that the font was so widely spread by the Dutch printing house."

Microsoft also adds that the company began uses the font in digital versions back in 1993 in a version called Guttman Hodes. Microsoft also states that the statute of limitations applies to the lawsuit and that filing the lawsuit now is flagrant and in bad faith.

"Hadassah is a special, precious, and festive font, an original work of art, praised by experts as groundbreaking in terms of design and style. The Hadassah font is based on extensive historical research into the shapes and development of Hebrew letters," Hannah claimed in her lawsuit.

Hannah states that Microsoft never received permission to use the font, nor were they allowed to adopt it into two different fonts called Guttman Hodes, and Monotype Hadassah. She adds that these two fonts are a falsification of the original font and distort her fathers work.

Haaertz writes in 2013: The copyrights over the Hebrew type fonts known to Office users as Guttman Hodes and Monotype Hadassah are the focus of a lawsuit recently filed against Microsoft at a Lod District Court.

About 70 years ago, as he was hiding from the Nazi horrors in an attic in the Netherlands, the artist Henry Friedlander began designing a Hebrew print font. Friedlander, of German descent, escaped to the Netherlands, and there, in that attic, he continued to design and perfect a Hebrew type font.

In 1958, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Israel's independence, he completed his design, and called the font Hadassah.

Hannah Tal, Friedlander's sole heir, claims that by using and advertising the font to millions of users without her permission, Microsoft is committing copyrights violations. In response, Microsoft has claimed that Tal is hiding from the courts the fact that her father transferred his rights to the font to a foundry in the Netherlands in 1950. That foundry then provided licenses to other parties to use the font, which in turn transferred the rights to the font over to Microsoft. The company also says that Tal does not own exclusive rights to the original font.

Friedlander, winner of the Johann Gutenberg prize in 1970, and an honorary professor at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts, died in 1996, aged 92. He left all of his property, including copyrights in his name, to his only daughter. "Hadassah is a special, precious, and festive font, an original work of art, praised by experts as groundbreaking in terms of design and style," Tal said a recent lawsuit. "The Hadassah font is based on extensive historical research into the shapes and development of Hebrew letters."

The designer's daughter adds that her father created the font over a period of some 30 years, and that each and every letter was meticulously designed, preserving the uniqueness of each letter, while at the same time adapting the same style to all of the letters.

Tal claims that even though Microsoft never received permission to use the font, it has done so by adapting it for two groups of fonts, including Guttman Hodes, and Monotype Hadassah. The names as well, claim Tal, mistakenly claim that they are connected to the original Hadassah font. These fonts, Tal says, are a falsification of the original, and distort Friedlander's original work. According to Tal, "saying that Friedlander would turn over in his grave if he knew what was done to his work is not an exaggeration at all."

In its defense Microsoft has said, "the late Friedlander never made any claims during his life about the widespread use of the Hadassah font. On the contrary, he expressed satisfaction that the font was so widely spread by the Dutch printing house." Microsoft also said it began using the font in digital versions in 1993, in a version called Guttman Hodes, which was created by the late Samuel Guttman, after it received permission to do so. Finally, Microsoft says the statute of limitations applies to the lawsuit, and filing it now is flagrant, and in bad faith.

Several other articles exist on the matter, including an article by Publish (in Dutch, dated 2013) that explains that Lettergieterij Tetterode is the Dutch company that had signed the first contract with Friedlaender. It sublicensed the fonts to Intertype, IBM, AM, Bitstream, and in 2000 to Linotype. The latter deal was brokered in part by Henk Gianotten. Gianotten claims that Tal has no chance of winning. A more legalese article was written by Itzhak Dannon for Jewish Business News.

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file name: Kivun Hadassah 1991 1993


file name: Kivun Hadassah 1991 1993b


file name: Hadassah


file name: Henri Friedlaender Hannah Tal Photograph by Tomer Appelbaum


file name: Henri Friedlaender Pic







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