Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gordo's Ducky Font Ruffles Feathers

For the record, Gordon Smith is neither a Duck nor a Beaver - he graduated from Brigham Young. But his campaign is using a typeface

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 11:32 AM

For the record, Gordon Smith is neither a Duck nor a Beaver - he graduated from Brigham Young. But his campaign is using a typeface that sure as hell looks like the one the University of Oregon Ducks use.

Kari Chisholm at BlueOregon first pointed out the remarkable similarity last Wednesday. Not only is Smith using what looks like the identical font, but his logo and TV ads have adopted the Duck colors of green and gold. (Take a look here and here.)

"I don't get it," Chisholm wrote. "Is he deliberately trying to piss off fans of the OSU Beavers? Or does he think he's got them locked up - and it's the UO Ducks that need work?

"Or is he so clueless that rabid Duck fans on his staff got carried away, and he didn't notice? (I don't think so. There are no accidents or coincidences when millions in TV advertising are being spent.)"

The U of O has trademarked the font and, according to Jay Jones on the DuckSportsNews blog, they almost never let anybody else use it: "For designers working with the UO, getting it is a bit of a Holy Grail. Only a few at the Casanova Center have it. Just try getting hold of it. Good luck. Believe me. Because I've tried. And then try using it and see if you don't get a call from the Trademark Management office."

In an Oregonian story this morning Smith's office denies it's the same font, although they acknowledge it's very similar. Matt Dyste, Oregon's director of brand management, said the resemblance "probably isn't" an issue for the university. And a law professor at the U of O told the paper that "fonts and typefaces in this country have never been copyrightable."

Maybe so - but The Eye thinks it's fair to ask whether it's strictly kosher for a politician to rip off a public, taxpayer-supported university's typeface for his campaign ads.

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