February 6, 2003

Hunt against Nazaroff


Jamie Nazaroff from Zang-o-fonts has been marketing a typeface called Omicron Delta, created by him in 2001. He has designed type since about 1996, and is member of Typeright. He was contacted by Melissa Hunt (Vice President & General Counsel, Berthold Types Limited, 47 W. Polk St. #100-340, Chicago, Illinois 60605). She claims that Delta, designed by Gustav Jaeger, has been in the Berthold library since 1983. In her words:

We demand that you cease using "Omicron Delta" or any colorable
imitation of Berthold's DELTA and DELTA JAEGER marks to market
digital typefaces. To comply, you will need to remove all references
to "Delta" and/or any colorable imitation of DELTA from your font
software, world wide web site, and all other advertising or
promotional materials (including those of any of your resellers).
Jamie got understandably upset and posted the story at Typographica under the heading "THE SCHOOLYARD BULLIES NEVER GO AWAY". He complied with the Hunts' request, and changed the name of his font to Lawyerbait. The reaction to this news (read on) paints Berthold as one of the trigger-happy bad guys in the type world.

Comments by other typographers

The outrage at Typographics was unanimous, 100% in favor of Nazaroff. Not one dissenting voice. Here are a few samples:

  • Hrant Papazian: That's bullshit. For one thing, there's "prior art" for "delta"... about 3000 years worth! Don't give in that easily. An easy and often effective solution is to use public ridicule to make them back off. Get people talking about it (like you're doing right now!), write up a petition, get signatures, publicize it. Use the public voice as a sledgehammer, the way they use the System as such. The same thing happened with Adobe and that Russian programmer.
  • John Butler: I recommend you forward their letter to both Delta Airlines and the people who make Jaegermeister.
  • Paul D.: You should change its name to "Omicron D.E.L.T.A." if you change it at all.
  • Chester: Jamie, You too? A few years ago we received a cease-and-desist-or-at-least-rename-your-font letter from the fine folks at Berthold. They objected to our font named 'Virgil', as it was similar in name to their font 'Vergil'. The fonts seem to have two things in common: 1) their naming inspiration, the Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro, aka Virgil, aka Vergil, and 2) their utter lack of sales and use by the type-purchasing community. According to Berthold's site, Vergil was designed by Dieter Hofrichter in 1990. Virgil was designed by me in 1993, with zero knowledge of the Berthold design, and there is no design similarity between the two fonts. We obviously didn't want a war with Berthold over something as stupid as a font name, and since they're bigger and scarier than we are, and seemed to have gotten to the name first, we relented and re-released Virgil as Eclogues. (One of the poet's major texts.) As for the Omicron Delta versus Delta Jaeger kerfuffle... Berthold is being petty in the extreme, and they should just relax. If there is no malicious intent by Zang-O-Fonts, there is no case. And the likelihood that there will be confusion in the marketplace between the two fonts is inconceivable. Jamie, I'd say that you're taking the high ground by renaming your font, and you're treating the matter with the right insouciance in choosing the name "Lawyerbait", which is basically a raised middle finger to the folks it's meant for, and a clever name to the rest of us.
  • John Hudson: It should probably be noted that Berthold Types Inc., while owning the H. Berthold trademarks, does not seems to have any structural continuity with that venerable but defunct foundry. The trademarks were purchased by the present owner, who registered the company name Berthold Types Inc. So Jamie is not being hassled by 'a large, incorporated foundry that?s been around almost 150 years'. He's being hassled by a relatively small but litigious US outfit that has been around for less than ten years.
  • Alan Gibbs: Every font designer should now design a free font called (Something) Delta. Lawyer Ms Hunt would be kept busy with trivia, which is A Good Thing. My contribution will be called Buttholed Delta.
  • James Arboghast: Berthold's assertion, which is really a harassment lawsuit, rests on the technicality of dilution. And since dozens of other fonts have 'delta' in their names, Berthold's use of the term is not unique; merely an example of the genera 'delta'. Therefore their case has no merit. Berthold loses, pays Jamie's legal costs, plus compensation for lost income for duration of proceedings, plus court costs. By rights they should also be ordered to compensate Jamie for stress inflicted by their harassment lawsuit.

More Deltas

Melissa, if you are reading this, here is a list of other Delta fonts that have been around for a long time. I think that in all cases, you did not defend the Delta name in time to be able to make a legal claim, but let that not stop you from sending the designers your friendly letter. In the case of Paul King, please send your letter directly to the Charlotte County Jail, where he is sitting out a 3-month sentence.

  • Bay Animation: Delta Normal.
  • Computer Support Corporation: Delta Normal.
  • Double Alex: Delta Symbol.
  • Ralf Kloeden Grafische Gestaltung: Status Delta.
  • Southern Software (Paul King): DeltaSSi.
  • Ray Larabie: Delta Hey Max Nine.
  • Arts & Letters: Delta Normal.
  • CompuWorks: Delta Overlap Regular.
  • Iconian: Delta Ray.
  • Novel: Deltaic Italic.
  • New York Design Studio: Delta.

Copyright © 2003 Luc Devroye
School of Computer Science
McGill University
Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6