Chinese firm claims World of Warcraft stole its fonts

Font of all typographic wisdom

A Chinese company is suing the developer behind one of the world's biggest games over a claim that the World of Warcraft (WoW) game used its fonts without permission. The suit could be worth $13.2m.

Fonts are pieces of software that need to be licensed, and font piracy is one of the lesser known forms of intellectual property infringement.

China's Founder Electronics is suing WoW publisher Blizzard Entertainment in a Bejing court over its alleged use of its fonts in the game. The company said that five Chinese language fonts were used in the Chinese version of the game, which was launched in 2005.

WoW is a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), and Blizzard says that it has nine million players across the world. Founder says that 3.5 million of those are in China.

Founder said that it had lost one billion yuan, or $132m, through the alleged unauthorised use of its fonts. It is claiming one tenth of that in its suit, said a company statement.

Founder says it is the largest provider of Chinese language fonts in the country. Blizzard is a unit of French media company Vivendi Universal.

The case will be heard in the Bejing Municipal Higher People's Court.

Font misuse is a common but rarely discussed form of software piracy. Software piracy lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA) says that the average computer has 300 unlicensed fonts on it.

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