The Font Brothers may be bros, but they definitely aren't Font Bronies. The Minneapolis-based type foundry is suing Hasbro for unauthorized usage of one of its typefaces in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic materials.
The font in question is Generation B, which the Font Brothers call "a playful and offbeat" typeface inspired by the opening titles of The Parent Trap (the 1961 Hayley Mills version, not the inferior Lindsay Lohan remake). It's used not only for Hasbro's official My Little Pony website, but in toy packaging, merchandise, videos, and more.
"Defendant Hasbro has used or instructed others to use unauthorized copies of the Generation B Font in the creation of, but not limited to, all products, goods, merchandise, television and film properties, and advertising materials connected with the ‘My Little Pony’ product line..," the Font Brothers' claim reads. Concrete examples of the unauthorized use can be found here.
According to the Font Brothers, they were in touch with Hasbro about the unauthorized usage of Generation B before filing a lawsuit, but the My Little Pony makers refused to license the font for commercial use. They are now seeking $150,000 per infringement. Although Font Brothers say that "at present, the amount of such damages, gains, profits, and advantages cannot be fully ascertained," the use of Generation B across Hasbro's My Little Pony appears to be ubiquitous.
Lawsuits over unauthorized commercial use of typefaces are common. From 2009 to 2012, NBCUniversal was sued three separate times over unauthorized font usage. Other companies and entities that have gotten in trouble over the years for pirating fonts include Microsoft, Rick Santorum, TBS, Mixpanel, and even frickin' Harry Potter. Most of these lawsuits end in settlements.
Generally speaking, there are no conspiracies involved in how respectable companies end up misusing fonts. Oftentimes, the issue is as simple as a lapse in due diligence when a designer uses a font for professional work that he or she only has license to use individually. Still, when you're talking about a franchise as big as My Little Pony, the alleged infringement seems uncharacteristically brazen. Come on, Hasbro. What would Twilight Sparkle say about font theft?
We have reached out to Hasbro and Font Brothers for comment. We will update this story when they respond.