[Fontconfig] Aliases

Ambrose Li acli at ada.dhs.org
Fri Apr 2 13:38:27 EST 2004

On Thu, Apr 01, 2004 at 03:11:52PM -0500, John A. Boyd Jr.

> I don't think it necessarily avoids trademark problems; to the
> contrary, it might invite them.
> Both statements ("I have the Times font available" and "I have
> a font that looks just like the Times available") could be
> trademark infringements, the second possibly moreso because it
> compares solely on the basis of the owned identification and
> not on any more explicitly descriptive association (e.g., "I
> have an upright serifed Latin font available.").  Both could
> thus be seen to be trading on and/or diluting the owned
> identification.  "Timmons" as a substitute for "Times" might
> have the same problem, if it is used as "advertisement" which
> relies on its similarity to "Times" in a non-functional,
> non-descriptive way.
> Again, I believe it is prudent to base substitute
> identification on descriptive semantic keywords (or, what
> I would call "abstractions" instead of "aliases", inasmuch
> as they convey semantically descriptive content and are
> not just symbolicallly associative) instead of just other
> identifications, which may be owned intellectual property in
> the usage context at hand.


How do you convey semantic information for fonts? For Times,
for example, it is not correct to say an "upright serifed Latin
font" for many reasons. First, Times is not just an ordinary
upright serifed font, it, among other things, has a particular
"business feel" and is very space economical, and in some
applications it would be very wrong to substitute a different-
looking serifed font.  Secondly, it is not just a Latin font;
e.g., Microsoft's "Times New Romans" covers WGL4 with non-Latin
characters; and there are non-Latin Type 1 versions of Times,
e.g., for Cyrillic.

And how practical is it so catalogue the semantic descriptions
of fonts? Just the Adobe Type Library has > 1000 type families,
most of them having more than 1 font.

What about non-Latin fonts? It seems that non-Latin fonts (at
least CJK fonts) are usually put into incorrect categories.

We cannot even start to populate our catalogue with the existing
panose information in TrueType fonts; a lot of fonts, including
(or perhaps especially) commercial ones, often have incorrect or
outright junk panose data. We'll have to recatalogue everything
from scratch or at least manually verify all the panose data.
And should we trust our own expertise, if even (supposed)
professionals do it wrong for panose?

Even if we can come up with a 100% semantic cataloguing scheme
(which is hopefully better than any existence system), we will
have to catalogue trademarked fonts in any case; if simply
referring to the names would be infringement, how can any scheme
work at all? And wouldn't the average person commit trademark
infringement even during normal use?

Graphic designers (or even knowledgeable amateurs) know that
certain type families are interchangeable. If just saying
"I have a font that looks just like Times available" could
be infringement, then college professors will be infringing
trademarks just for teaching typography during class.

Why is allowing the user (who could just know what he/she
is doing) to make the mapping so bad?  If a new font comes
out before it is catalogued --- or if a user uses an older
fontconfig package, which is not a wrong thing in any sense of
wrong --- why is it so bad that the user is not allowed to tell
the system what to do?

>From the discussion, I'd have to say that the true goal of
trademark lawyers is just to make it hard to make things
interoperable, or perhaps they just want needless enmity between
people. If what you say is right, I find trademark lawyers


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