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EU Throws out Microsoft's Vista Font Trademark 82

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the stirred-up-a-hornets-nest dept.
vitaly.friedman writes "Microsoft has lost another round at the EU though this time it has nothing to do with the antitrust case. This time the dispute is over fonts; specifically Segoe, one of the typefaces Microsoft wants to use in Vista. Microsoft filed its "registered community design" for the font back in January of 2004, paid the required fee, and everything was great until December." A copy of the decision is also available.
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EU Throws out Microsoft's Vista Font Trademark

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  • Quick! (Score:3, Funny)

    by MS_Word (877966) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @04:29PM (#15061594)
    Someone patent losing court cases!
    • Re:Quick! (Score:3, Funny)

      by 50m31sl4sh. (854939)
      Someone patent losing court cases!
      Whoever dares to do so risks putting himself into infinite loop.
  • by Krach42 (227798) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @04:33PM (#15061621) Homepage Journal
    Segoe [wikipedia.org] is essentially identical to Frutiger Next, and specifically the problem in the EU, is that someone at Microsoft told the EU that it *was* identical to Frutiger Next.

    So, it's naturally really hard to get a trademark on a typeface that you previously said was identical to Frutiger Next.

    At the bottom of the wiki page, they have a comparison of the two, the biggest different is the capital Q, where the tail is shifted slightly, and that's all. Oh, the numeral 1 also looks different. Everything else is identical.
    • Segoe (Score:3, Interesting)

      God! Don't let an MS'er send you Segoe documents! They embed the bloody font, and then use Rights-Management to keep you from changing it!

      You have to PRINT the thing to read it.

      Is a DISASTER on screen - anti-aliased or not. I'm not kidding. If I could include screen caps I would. Unreadable to the point of physical injury.

      SegoeUI was created at MS to use in Titlebars and Menus. This is OK with ClearType enabled. It is still unreadable in Vista's tilebars -which arbitrarily use transparency under AeroGl
      • They embed the bloody font, and then use Rights-Management to keep you from changing it!

        That reminds me of the Analog Rights Management that I had to deal with many years ago. A big chip vendor we were working with would send out pre-release design specs printed in black ink on dark red paper stock. I guess the idea was to prevent photocopying, but the main effect of their scheme was to make my eyes bleed by the end of the day.

      • Re:Segoe (Score:3, Informative)

        by imboboage0 (876812)
        Actually, i use Segoe UI for everything.

        I have it set as Firefox's default font. I use it in my Winamp Playlist. It's my font for AIM. Looks great in titlebars. Creates very smooth looking tect on icons and the such. In fact' I'd recommend it for just about anything. All you have to do is turn on ClearType and tweak it. Bam. Good to go. I dunno how it looks to you, but it looks smooth to me.

        Here's a couple screenies I took for ya. Agree or disagree; I still like it.
        http://darkfiles2.servebeer.com/im [servebeer.com]
    • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @04:50PM (#15061714) Homepage Journal
      The wiki page says that Linotype wants a penny per OS copy licensed. That's vastly, vastly cheaper than trying to buy a font. And although it does come to tens of millions of dollars, it's still a lot less than fighting court cases. Why not just pay the $.01 and be done with it?

      Linotype seems to own the font fair and square. Why try to cheat them out of their millimeter of green for it?
      • because its Microsoft. this animal hasn't changed sine its glory days like the way it did vendors and Netscape , it still goes ahead and keeps on with the cheating and dirty tricks . courts and law is going to get them because of the viable alternatives out there like linux and os x . Microsoft is starting its hedgomany as Linux and social collaboration spreads .we may be seeing the begining of the end of the windows dynasty
      • Because if they settle there, then not only do they open themselves up to the Helvetica and Palatino, but they'd have to stop the practice for the one they steal AFTER this one.
        • Because if they settle there, then not only do they open themselves up to the Helvetica and Palatino, but they'd have to stop the practice for the one they steal AFTER this one.

          What "Helvetica"? If you're referring to Arial, then it's by no means a stolen Helvetica; they're totally different designs, and anyone who knows anything about type can tell them apart at a glance. People get annoyed about Arial because it's ugly, not because it's "stolen".

          And what "Palatino"? Book Antiqua? Ancient history. Mic
          • What a total load of crap! Total MS fanboy defensiveness.

            What "Helvetica"? If you're referring to Arial, then it's by no means a stolen Helvetica

            Uh, yes, it absolutely is. It's a third-rate clone of Helvetica done by a company called Monotype so Microsoft didn't have to pay license fees. I guess you have no idea of history, so here, I'll educate you--read this called The Scourge of Arial [ms-studio.com] where its dubious history is discussed. It's a "shameless imposter" of Helvetica thrust upon the world.

            ; they're tota
        • They didn't steal, they inovated new names.
      • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <{su.narima} {ta} {niwrehs}> on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @07:02PM (#15062530) Homepage Journal
        Microsoft doesn't settle until they've forced the other guy to spend millions (tens of millions?) on legal costs.

        To Microsoft, its not about how much it costs MS; its about how much its costs YOU.

        They're willing to spend $1,000 to for your company to spend $10, because MS has tons of cash. This is standard Microsoft fare; look at Caldera, Stacker, and many other companies that were blatantly ripped off by MS. MS does settle; just after their opponent is dead (or crippled).
      • If they make 10s of millions of dollars at $0.01 each, that implies that billions of copies of Windows will be sold, which is very, very unlikely.
    • I know that being an apologist for Microsoft is hardly a favored position here at Slashdot, however...

      In this case it really does seem to me that they have a case. While the two typefaces are very similar, there are more differences than the ones pointed out (i.e. the Q and the 1). In general, Segoe seems to be more rounded and broader. I agree that the two are very similar, but, as someone else said, it is by necessity that many typefaces look the same - you wouldn't be able to read them otherwise. The
      • Because it's entirely different if it was their font designer who said it or if it was a random employee whom they asked "hey, do these two look the same to you?"

        IIRC, their attorney said it infront of the board of inquiry.

        Their defense was not, "The Fonts are Different".

        Their defense was, "The Fonts are the same, but they have no proof they sold it first, because although the invoice they show you is from 2000, the CD they presented was pressed in 2005."

        That's a goofy defense.
    • by Plug (14127) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:52PM (#15063337) Homepage
      Segoe UI is a ripoff of Frutiger Next.
      Frutiger Next is an upgrade of Frutiger.
      Adrian Frutiger [wikipedia.org] created the Frutiger typeface by updating the typeface he created for Orly Airport [wikipedia.org]. .: Windows Vista - O RLY?
  • See for yourself (Score:5, Informative)

    by Odin_Tiger (585113) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @04:37PM (#15061647) Journal
    Here's a side-by-side comparison [hardcovermedia.com] of the two fonts.
    • by mcvos (645701)
      Looks like Segoe is Frutiger bold.
    • Actually, I see notable differences between G,J,Q,c,f,g,and j. Please note we are talking about typefaces here, and the differences WILL be subtle.
      • The 1 and 8 are also different. Segoe uses a bottom line on the 1, and has a slightly smaller upper loop on the 8, whereas frutiger omits the bottom line on the 1, and uses equal sized loops on top and bottom for the 8.
        Overall though, I do think the differences are more subtle than between most fonts.
        • If you copy a font, and try to register the bit-by-bit copy, you're in for trouble. Everybody knows that.

          So when you copy(steal) a font, you need to change a couple of things before you claim it as original work. And, I think that if you go in, change the 1, 8, and a couple of letters, this should not be considered proof of original work.

          Now, I think that "some ratios" being the same is not valid "proof" of the fonts being identical. I could decide that I like some of the proportions in frutiger, and use th
        • As someone else anonymously posted, Segue is supposed to be a sans-serif font. Your finding a serif on the one (1) kinda shows that it was added on as an after thought just to make it look different from the one it was copied from.
    • Just laughing at your sig. BTW when you multiply four by ten, you get forty.
    • Dear God, why does anyone use JPGs for screen caps of high-contrast line art? The amount of artifacting is painful.

  • Woo-hoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Java Ape (528857) <mike.briggs@nOspAM.360.net> on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @04:51PM (#15061726) Homepage
    It takes some serious chutzpah to steal a font outright and then try to get legal protection of "your" work. And they'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddeling judges. Microsoft's arguments were pathetic -- they've obviously gotten used to bought-and-paid-for system in the U.S. (*SIGH*).

    Next week I think I'll register a few new fonts:

    • Messenger: Looks a lot like Courier
    • Verbatim: Somewhat resembles Verdana
    • Times Ripoff: Amazing similar to Times New Roman

    You know, font development isn't easy -- it's much harder than it first appears to build a font that is attractive, easily readable, and infinitely scalable. Using Microsoft's new font-development technique, even a yutz like me can produce attractive fonts in minutes. Maybe Microsoft should patent the technique of "stealing from others" -- they've used it enough they might be able to get trademark protection on it as well.

  • Microsoft 1) moves the tail on the "Q" 2) modifies the "1" 3) gives it a new name. This = new font.

    Does that mean I can take the Mona Lisa, sign it, give it a new frame, call it "the smile" and then claim it as my masterpiece?

  • Nothing new here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @05:28PM (#15061936) Journal

    I'm repeating myself by posting musch the same response as I did to this at Digg, but here goes anyway (my apologies to those who read it there). This kind of thing happens all the time in the world of fonts -- I used to collect them. I don't know how many virtually identical fonts I've seen, all of which were copyrighted by some company or other. Not similar, truly identical. And then there's many, many fonts that are copied from another source, such as typeface you've seen from popular movies. And these are all copyrighted too; I'm pretty sure that most of those wouldn't hold up in court. (Has anyone else noticed that it's so difficult to do nothing illegal nowadays becauses of patents and copyrights that it comes down to a matter of whether it would hold up in court? But I digress.)

    Not only that, but many of these fonts are DRMed to the hilt, which the true type font format is set up for. Imagine, you recognize where they got the font from and you can't even use it to write a document to print out because it's DRMed so that the only purpose it serves on your system is so you can read web pages made with that font. So that violates fair usage too. In short, they basically get away with murder when it comes to fonts because no one is going to sue them.... or at least, hasn't so far.

    One glaring example of both that springs to mind is a font that is a copy of Jimi's Hendrix's handwriting. And the maker of the font copyrighted and DRMed it. Imagine how Janie Hendrix might react if she got hold of that font and found out she couldn't even use it. How would you like it if someone copied your dead brother's handwriting to make a font and then DRMed it? (Yeah, yeah, I realize people familiar with my posts are probably Hendrixed out by now, but this a good example.) Or better still, if they copied the writing style from you?

    • Re:Nothing new here (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not similar, truly identical. And then there's many, many fonts that are copied from another source, such as typeface you've seen from popular movies. And these are all copyrighted too; ...

      Stop using "typeface" and "font" as synonyms; they are not.

      A typeface is the abstract appearance of the symbols: proportions, relative sizes, relative location of serifs and other features, and so forth. As an abstract idea, it is not subject to copyright or other protection.

      A font is a tangible set of instruction

  • by Gyarados (893032) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @06:19PM (#15062276)

    Can't we go one day without Microsoft doing something immoral or illegal?

  • Everyone knows that Wingdings [wikipedia.org] is a more readable font than Frutiger Next
  • I was on the team at Microsoft early in Longhorn when Segoe was being developed. MS held usability studies and consulted readibility experts and made changes and updates to Segoe on a regular basis (this was 2-4 years ago). Now, that being said, whenever a new verison of Segoe was released, it appeared identical to the previous and even today I'm extremely hard pressed to discern any difference between the 'two' fonts. AFAICT they are the same with two different names. Really beautiful screen font though
  • {pffftwh} (Score:3, Funny)

    by tinkertim (918832) * on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:14PM (#15063128) Homepage
    There, that is my fart. It is unique, can't be copied and I'd like to trademark it please. Like everything else that is published on the internet, I'm going to throw a big fat copyright on it so nobody can steal it. Don't you dare fart like I just did, that is my intellectual property and trademark!

    I illustrated my point with a fart to signify that the I.T world is rapidly becoming a very smelly place to conduct business. Small companies follow the examples of larger successful companies and paranoia is highly contageous - beginning to show. How many non disclosure agreements have YOU signed this month?

    I can't believe they tried to patent something so .. idiotic in the first place. Can they for once, just ONCE produce something quietly, release it and sell it like everyone else does?

    If MS was truly concerned about covering their ass they would write more secure operating systems. They don't do that, they patent everything they possibly can to try to squeeze every last cent out of the junk they produce and have turned suing small companies into a cottage industry over stupid technicalities. This was aimed to get their 'digs' into the EU so they could snuff out anyone who stole the font they already stole.

    Will each Vista PC come with an attached penis that pops out of the top and urinates "BILL WAS HERE" on your wall? If they hope to keep *any* of the market share they've enjoyed gouging over the past decades they need to do a complete about face and focus on serving the needs of their customers.

    I wish I could make neat cartoons in flash. I see willy wonka's chocolate factory making fonts as secret as the ever-lasting-gob-stopper for Microsoft.

    Mr Gates, You have my permission to use my newly patented {pffftwh} to blow your HEAD out of your ASS so you can actually RELEASE something useful.
    • Don't you dare fart like I just did, that is my intellectual property

      I have never before heard the words "fart" and "intellectual" used in the same sentence.

      Hey go patent that!
  • Microsoft didn't "steal" the font, they "embraced and extended" it.

    Don't believe me? Look at the Segoe "1"
  • Character fonts patenting is a bad idea, imho. Because the fonts themselves alone don't make any sense.
    A picture alone can make sense, that is carries some information.
    Character fonts make sense when used to write words, sentences or simply character strings. So the fonts themselves don't carry any information. They could, but don't.
    A better idea for people working in Redmond would instead be to patent words printed with a certain font as if they were pictures. Normal people calls these things "logos".
  • Microsoft does not sell software specifically intended for graphic designers, or for printers (the profession *or* the hardware), or for any other specialty that would require having the latest and greatest font set.

    They sell an OS and an office productivity suite geared toward Mom 'n Pop and boring suit-clad businessmen.

    Microsoft really shouldn't bother getting into multi-million dollar pissing contests over where the stroke on a majuscule "Q" goes - They really only need two fonts: Arial and Lucida Co

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