Trademarks and Brands

Custom-designed Fonts as Intellectual Property

by T+B BLOG TEAM on Thursday, 29 March, 2018

It's becoming more commonplace to see custom-designed typefaces in use by large companies these days. The latest is Netflix Sans, developed by the Netflix in-house design team, in partnership with foundry Dalton Maag for use in branding and marketing. Netflix joins Apple (with its San Francisco font), Samsung (SamsungOne font), and BBC (Reith font), who have introduced their own custom fonts.

Why go custom? Using a font involves payment of a licensing fee, which can add up over time. Dalton Maag operations director Richard Bailey told Digital Arts in a recent interview: "Sometimes it’s a matter of not being able to find the right expression or functionality from 'off-the-shelf' fonts, language coverage problems or legibility — or simply wanting a font that can be an 'ownable' part of their brand."

Companies can avoid or reduce licensing fees by developing their own font in-house or by paying a fee to a design firm. As Netflix brand design lead Noah Nathan told It's Nice That: “With the global nature of Netflix’s business, font licensing can get quite expensive. ... Developing this typeface [also] created an ownable and unique element for the brand’s aesthetic.”

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Topics: intellectual property, brands

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