Lawsuit Alleges Rick Santorum's Website Built With 'Counterfeit' Font
BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 18 2011
A Dutch font foundry has sued the makers of Rick Santorum's website, alleging copyright infringement for the way the site uses used their font.
Update: The lawsuit pertains to an earlier version of Santorum's website, from as early as June 30 of last year, when it was the site for his America's Foundation PAC. While on the same domain name, the current site was built by a different firm and uses a different design. The PAC isn't named as a party in the lawsuit, either.
The foundry, Typotheque, asserts that site designers Raise Digital didn't have license to use their Fedra font, which appeared on RickSantorum.com. The suit, brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, was first reported by Reuters.
The company's complaint calls out Raise Digital for taking fonts from their Fedra font family and modifying them so they could be used on Santorum's website. Designers often use a method available through a technology called Cascading Style Sheets to host a font on their client's web server and provide it to each visitor — but generally, they make sure to get license to use that font on the web first. The complaint, which goes out of its way to say that the Santorum campaign isn't involved, alleges that Raise Digital — or whomever Raise Digital hired to do the design work — didn't have that license.
Then things get technical: The suit says the font that appeared on Santorum's website was a modified version of one of theirs — tweaked so that it would work on the web — and that the resulting product was "counterfeit."
I asked Gabe Levine, a San Francisco-based intellectual property lawyer who represents new media companies, if what Typotheque alleges Raise Digital did would be a rookie mistake.
"I'd say it's pretty rookie, yeah," he said. Later in the conversation, he added, "When one of my competent developer clients uses a font, they make damn well sure they have a right to use it."
Raise Digital's founder, Justin Hart — who we know from his work for Chuck DeVore's aborted campaign last year to become the Republican nominee for one of California's U.S. Senate seats — declined to comment.
The suit seeks $2 million in damages.