Considerations for selecting fonts during iOS & Android development

Check the custom fonts used in your apps to avoid lawsuits

The First Prototype

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While working on the feature development, maintenance & white-labeling with our biggest client, we received an email from Monotype stating that the apps were using their fonts without a license. They didn’t provide details about which app or which font in the 16 apps (8 titles) violated the policy. Until we were brought in, the fleet of apps were designed, created and maintained for 6 years by Microsoft’s leading consulting partner. We found most of the fonts were used without licenses, but that’s alright, no one’s perfect.

Seeing how it’s easily overlooked, we decided to write this article, where we will discuss how to check whether your app is using fonts without a license, the negative impact of using unlicensed fonts, and then we will go over tips of what you can do to avoid this situation.

Check what fonts violate licensing

First, we made a list of all the fonts that were used in the iOS & Android apps.
Then we searched several websites like fonts.com & typography.com to check for prices and licensing information.
We found that we were using a font family created by Linotype, and unfortunately Monotype owns that company as well. Upon reading further, we found that it couldn’t be used without purchasing a license.

Negative impact of using unlicensed fonts

Yearly cost of font family licensing for 8 titles

While comparing the price of the change versus just purchasing the font family, we found that the client hadn’t paid over $200k in licensing fees. They had a short grace period for making amends, however because they have 16 different apps, the time needed for development and regression testing was really long. A simple oversight wasted Development and QA effort, along with the opportunity cost of the newer features that had to wait.

Tips to avoid licensing issues

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