Israel Court rules that there is copyright in a font and Microsoft ordered to pay 512,000 New Israel Shekels

Back in October 2010, we reported an interim decision by Judge Grosskopf that fonts are copyright protectable. See /copyright/

Professor Grosskopf has now issued a full ruling on the subject as follows:

Fonts are copyright protected. Koren is a copy of the famous font that Eliyahu Koren developed in the 1950s for printing the Bible which is copyright protected. Koren-Guttman, available in Hebrew Office packages is considered a copy of Koren’s font.

As of 1 January 2013, Microsoft will no longer be able to provide Koren-Guttman or Narkiss fonts bundled into Microsoft Office software but Microsoft will not have to recall software distributed that includes the font.   In addition, Microsoft will have to pay 400,000 New Israel Shekels in statutory damages and 112,000 New Israel Shekels costs to the plaintiffs, Zvi Rosenerg, Masterfont and Koren Publishers.

The statutory damage award was reached by awarding maximum statutory damages under the old copyright ordinance of NIS 20,000, but awarding this sum per font for each software program, and considering variant fonts such as bold and italic as separate infringements, noting that they are separate designed fonts and not created on-the-fly by applying a transformation to the main font.

The Case: T. A. 5315-04-08 Koren Publishing House and Others Vs. Microsoft Israel and Others. 

COMMENT

In the text shown above, the opening phrase of the Bible, “In the Beginning, G-d created…” is shown in both Koren and Microsoft’s variant font. The similarity is quite striking. Microsoft’s defence was that fonts should be protectable as designs and not as copyright, and where not registered, and therefore are in the public domain. Of course, were the font registered, it would have long ago entered the public domain as design registration in Israel is good for up to 25 years. Copyright is for life of author + 70 years. Eliyahu Koren passed away in 2001, so it will be a while before his iconic font can be distributed for free.

It is not clear that the standard term of copyright protection is appropriate for fonts. Grosskopf is critical of the one size fits all copyright approach but believes that the courts should apply the law, and leaves copyright reform to the Knesset.

2 Responses to Israel Court rules that there is copyright in a font and Microsoft ordered to pay 512,000 New Israel Shekels

  1. A Reader says:

    Fascinating! Thanks so much for summarizing this most interesting case.

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