[Fontconfig] Aliases

Enrique Perez-Terron enrio at online.no
Thu Apr 1 11:04:05 EST 2004

Hello all,

As far as I understood this issue, it started out with a request to be
able to list the font names that an application can "ask for" without
being turned down. (Yes, I know fontconfig does not turn programs down,
but considering the bad match it would be to use the last-resort default
font for a requested one that only contains antique Egyptian hieroglyphs
in some non-standard encoding, this is as good as turning one down.)

I don't quite see how it would infringe trademarks if this piece of
factual information is made available. I believe not all cases of naming
a trademark constitute an infringement. I am no lawyer and I would
appreciate any clarification from any competent person, but until so
happens I think infringement happens primarily when another product is
offered to the public under the protected name. There are a number of
twists to this issue, like using a protected name in ways that
subconsciously transfers the positive conotations associated with the
protected name to the product being offered, or to the offerer. I doubt
"someone might misunderstand the intent" is a sufficient reason for
considering a quote of a name an infringement.

If I receive a document in some foreign format, that specifies it was
prepared with a particular Adobe font in mind, but fails to characterize
this font in any way, I find it far-fetched to consider the specified
font's name a "generic description of style". The substitution of a
suitable available font for the named one will have to rely on
information about that font (i.e., a description of it) residing
somewhere else than in the document, in casu, in one of the
configuration files of fontconfig. The information in this configuration
file would be saying something like "Font X(possibly a tm) is
reasonably, or even best, approximated with font Y(possibly a tm), of
all fonts available on this system".

The question the OP wants to ask fontconfig could be rephrased "about
which fonts is sufficient information available on this system so that a
suitable substitution can be chosen?". Again, I believe providing an
answer to this question is a right under free speech, not a trademark
infringement. I further believe this and similar information could
legally be given in a printed (and publicly sold) book, hardcoded into a
program, etc.

Surely, trademark issues are important, but it would be unfortunate to
limit the scope of free software because of a poor understanding of the
legal issues.


On Wed, 2004-03-31 at 19:57, John A. Boyd Jr. wrote:
> I meant "limited to", not "imagined to" (where did that come from?...)
> Might I also add, however, that terms used to describe are much less
> likely to be interpreted in a legal sense as trademarks, compared to
> terms which name.  Indeed, when names begin to become descriptive,
> like "Kleenex" and "Xerox", it becomes all the more difficult to
> enforce them as trademarks.
> -John
> John A. Boyd Jr. wrote:
> > First, I agree with Keith that trademark names are an issue, but
> > it must be considered that there are both registered and unregistered
> > trademarks.  It would be nearly impossible to protect against using
> > unregistered trademarks.
> > 
> > In any event, if words like "Monospace" are trademarks, the last thing
> > one would ever want to do is hardcode them into software; that makes
> > the author of the software the infringer, not the user.  If the choice
> > to "infringe or not to infringe" is to be left to the user, the use
> > of such names must be derived from the processed fonts, not hardcoded
> > in any way.
> > 
> > But to Keith's proposal, may I suggest an alternative to the use of
> > "aliases".  I think semantically, these are not "names", and thus not
> > "aliases" at all; they are generic descriptions of style.  Following
> > from the motivations for the patches I submitted some time ago, these
> > could be considered "anonymous" patterns (in the fontconfig sense),
> > where no attempt is made to match on name, but matches are instead
> > done on style (as rendered by semantically distinguishable keywords).
> > 
> > E.g. what is now referred to as the "Sans alias" could instead be
> > considered the "sans" style keyword for any matching font name
> > (i.e., family).  Moreover, it can be derived in many cases from the
> > underlying font description without having to hardcode it.
> > 
> > I didn't go quite this far with my patches, though I did begin to
> > establish the framework for dealing with style as a collection of
> > keywords (not just in fontconfig, but in pango, freetype, etc.).
> > I offered them as a workaround, but one with a clear direction towards
> > Keith's proposal.
> > 
> > Notably, this direction avoids the "author as infringer" dilemma,
> > since it avoids hardcoding of keywords which might also be trademarks.
> > 
> > Note that the use of style keywords need not be imagined to, e.g.,
> > simple case-insensitive string matching.  More general mappings should
> > be possible as well.  I.e., whatever is now done to map aliases could
> > be done as well to map style keywords, since after all, the current
> > aliases _are_ style keywords, though less generally interpreted than
> > is possible and semantically reasonable.
> > 
> > -John
> > 
> > Keith Packard wrote:
> > 
> >> Around 0 o'clock on Mar 31, Juliusz Chroboczek wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >>> I would tend to agree with Adam here.  Preventing the user from
> >>> infringing on trademarks is not fontconfig's business; it's the
> >>> business of law enforcing agencies.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Of course; what we want is to allow people to get their work done 
> >> without forcing them to infringe on trademarks.  Fontconfig does half 
> >> of that job already; providing a way to accept trademarked names and 
> >> match them apprproiately while allowing people to leave those same 
> >> names out of the application font menus. 
> >> Now it seems like we've figured out that we want the other piece as well;
> >> providing a way to get new names to appear in the font list which are 
> >> then
> >> mapped to other fonts.  I can imagine this would be really nice for
> >> presenting localized font names, as well as the existing generic stuff 
> >> that gnome has kludged into place.
> >>
> >> Let's try to get some use models and proposed semantics set out so we 
> >> can start figuring out how this should work.
> >>
> >> -keith
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>
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> > 
> > 
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