In the news: an ampersand case against Gap
A Brooklyn, New York-based design firm has sued clothing retailer Banana Republic, accusing the Gap Inc unit of using a stylized ampersand the firm designed in online ads without a commercial license writes Reuters.
As reported by The Fashion Law, the Gap-owned retailer Banana Republic is being sued over punctuation appropriation and to be more precise, an impressive ampersand.
In a recently filed complaint, Moshik Nadav Typography LLC -an “innovative typography and graphic design business” that boasts clients with names like VOGUE, Estee Lauder, ELLE UK, Ann Taylor, and GQ magazine- alleges that Banana Republic has “engaged in an extraordinary, large-scale and widespread commercial use” of the little “and” symbol from its “distinctive and unique” Paris Pro typeface in an “extensive digital marketing” campaign, as well as on its “worldwide social media platforms.”
According to the complaint, which it filed in a New York federal court on Tuesday, Brooklyn-based Moshik Nadav Typography LLC (“Moshik Nadav”) claims that in 2012 in furtherance of its business of designing and licensing “artistic typefaces, and logotypes in digital formats for headlines in fashion magazines, as well as logos for luxury and high-end brands,” it created “a distinctive and unique artistic typeface font” called “Paris Pro.”
Part of the Paris Pro typeface – which Moshik Nadav says “has a specific artistic expression that showcases [Mr.] Nadav’s creativity as a graphic designer and typographer” -is a stylized ampersand, a design with “unique artistic logogram” that serves as “the centerpiece of Nadav’s brand identity.”
The problem at play, according to Moshik Nadav is that instead of paying to license the Paris Pro ampersand or otherwise receiving Nadav’s authorization, Banana Republic opted to copy the symbol and use it in a commercial capacity, including on its social media accounts, e-commerce site, and in its email newsletter in order to “encourage Banana Republic’s millions of followers to purchase Banana Republic’s products.”
According to Moshik Nadav, “the overall look and feel of Banana Republic’s reproduction of the Paris Pro ampersand is substantially similar to the Paris Pro ampersand,” as the retailer “intentionally copied or caused to be copied the Paris Pro ampersand.” As a result, the company claims that it has been deprived “of any compensation for [such] commercial use of [its] work.”
“Nadav’s complaint serves as a tiny window into the terminology and artistry of typeface design, and even a cursory investigation into this art form is rewarding” notes Lexology.
“No other font or typeface includes the same artistic ligatures and logograms set forth in the Paris Pro FS and Paris Pro Typeface,” reports Creative Bloq on Nadav's legal document.
As noted in The Fashion Law’s report a representative for Gap, Inc. did not respond to a request for comment.
The ampersand is the logogram &, representing the conjunction “and” and was originated as a ligature of the letters “et” -which is Latin for “and.”
The ampersand can be traced back to the 1st century A.D. and the Old Roman cursive, in which the letters E and T occasionally were written together to form a ligature.
The modern italic type ampersand is a kind of “et” ligature that goes back to the cursive scripts developed during the Renaissance. After the advent of printing in Europe in 1455, printers made extensive use of both the italic and Roman ampersands. Since the ampersand's roots go back to Roman times, many languages that use a variation of the Latin alphabet make use of it.
The ampersand often appeared as a character at the end of the Latin alphabet, as for example in Byrhtferð's list of letters from 1011.
Similarly, & was regarded as the 27th letter of the English alphabet, as taught to children in the US and elsewhere.
Not to be confused with the Tironian “et”, which has the same meaning, but which in appearance resembles the numeral 7, the ampersand has a story of its own.