To (C) or Not to (C)? Copyright and Innovation in the Digital Typeface Industry

41 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2008 Last revised: 4 Feb 2015

See all articles by Jacqueline D. Lipton

Jacqueline D. Lipton

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 2009


Intellectual property rights are often justified by utilitarian theory. However, recent scholarship suggests that creativity thrives in some industries in the absence of intellectual property protection. These industries might be called IP's negative spaces. One such industry that has received little scholarly attention is the typeface industry. This industry has recently digitized. Its adoption of digital processes has altered its market structure in ways that necessitate reconsideration of its IP negative status, with particular emphasis on copyright. This article considers the historical denial of copyright protection for typefaces in the United States, and examines arguments both for and against extending copyright protection to digital typefaces. It compares copyright law with alternative methods of protection for digital typefaces. It also suggests that the digital typeface industry may be a useful lens through which to consider broader claims about the application of intellectual property law to IP's negative spaces in the digital age.

Keywords: copyright, innovation, font, typeface, design right, intellectual property, cyberlaw

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K11, K19, K30

Suggested Citation

Lipton, Jacqueline Deborah, To (C) or Not to (C)? Copyright and Innovation in the Digital Typeface Industry (January 1, 2009). UC Davis Law Review, Forthcoming, Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-1, Available at SSRN:

Jacqueline Deborah Lipton (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-383-3207 (Phone)

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