Re: 'No Character' symbol

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Fri May 05 2006 - 22:50:39 CST

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    On Sat, 6 May 2006, Adam Twardoch wrote:

    > The graphic representation of the Apple logo is trademarked so a
    > font developer cannot place the Apple logo shape onto any glyph in his own
    > font without permission from the company.

    The graphic may or may not be a trademark, depending on national
    legislation, interpretation, and registrations. Moreover, it may or it
    may not be protected as a work of art by copyright laws, or as a symbol
    (logo) of a company.

    The content of the protection depends on national legislation. Trademark
    protection typically means that the trademark must not be used, without
    permission of the trademark owner, in _advertizing and selling products_
    in the categories in which the trademark has been registered or
    established by continued use. In the case of the Apple logo, the so-called
    Kodak doctrine would undoubtedly be applied: a very widely known trademark
    is treated as protected in all product categories, even if it has been
    registered in some categories only.

    Your mileage may vary, but in most countries, you can use an expression
    that is a trademark as long as you do not thereby mislabel your products.
    I can mention Apple, Microsoft, and even W3C without asking the trademark
    owners' permission and even without mentioning that they are trademarks
    (though an employer or a publisher might require me to add notes about
    trademarks, but that's really just "to be safe"). Trademarks that are
    graphic (images) are no exception. What _might_ matter is copyright, but
    this is highly debatable.

    Even if a font is a commercial product, it does not use the symbol as
    a label of the product. Things would be different if the font were
    advertized and sold with a name containing the symbol.

    Font developers probably do wisely when they don't include the Apple logo
    (or ask Apple's permission for it), but mainly because there's no need for
    it outside a certain context, and in that context, you had better be in
    friendly or at least non-hostile relations with Apple.

    The Unicode policy for not encoding graphic symbols that are used (only)
    as trademarks is certainly sound policy. But it's really a practical
    principle. It is possible that some country has strange trademark or other
    immaterial property laws that would prevent the creation of fonts
    containing such symbols. More probably, font developers (or their lawyers)
    would _think_ so. In addition to this, such symbols are normally not used
    in text.

    > The glyph name "apple" that is used
    > by Apple in their own fonts also includes a word trademark so it is better to
    > avoid it.

    For word trademarks, the situation is similar to graphic trademarks,
    though a word trademark like "Apple", being also a common word and part of
    many other trademarks, does not enjoy protection across categories.
    You must not produce and sell computers or closely computer-related stuff
    under the name "Apple", unless you have the trademark owner's permission;
    and that's about it. If the Unicode consortium decided to include symbols
    for fruits into Unicode, it would not need Apple's permission to use APPLE
    as a character name, or part of character name.

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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