NBC Sued in Font-Related Flare-Up

NBC Sued in Font-Related Flare-Up

NBC's legal team has one more headache on its hands. On Tuesday afternoon, the company was served with a lawsuit by the Font Bureau, one of the country's leading typographic design firms and the company responsible for crafting typefaces for the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and the New York Times Co. What would prompt a company that designs fonts to wage a legal assault on the media conglomerate? It seems NBC didn't secure the rights to use a handful of Font Bureau's trademarked typefaces. The same ones, we should add, that have been used as part of NBC's fall marketing campaign to tout shows like The Jay Leno Show, Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

In a trademark and copyright infringement lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Font Bureau argues that NBC only paid for a single license—which would only permit the company to install the typefaces on a single computer—and only paid to use a limited number of fonts. But NBC went ahead and copied the fonts to a bunch of other computers within the company, Font Bureau claims, and also started using several other fonts for which licenses were never obtained. (In case you're wondering, the typefaces in question include Bureau Grotesque, Interstate and Antenna.)

The Boston-based company is now asking for "no less than $2 million" in damages, since it argues NBC's unauthorized use has "caused injury to Font Bureau's relationships with present and prospective customers," will make it more difficult for Font Bureau to enter into licensing deals with other companies, and "will cause confusion, mistake and deception as to the source of Font Bureau's trademarks." Presumably NBC will seek to settle the suit rather than run the risk of turning up in court to hear that they've been barred from using the fonts until the case is settled (and then have to redo all their fall marketing materials).

We contacted a spokesperson at NBC for comment but have yet to hear back. In the meantime, you can look over the lawsuit—which was filed in Times New Roman, by the way—and exhibits below.