The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back

Shawn Steele Shawn.Steele at
Tue Nov 15 19:26:16 CST 2016

As I understand the issue, the problem is less of whether or not it is legal, then whether or not Paramount might sue.  Whether Unicode wins or not, it would still cost money to defend.

I was wondering like Mark Davis mentioned if there were some sort of companies that sold bonds for this kind of thing (though that might be out of KLI's budget.)

Being afraid of a no answer probably isn't going to inspire confidence.  But maybe you could do a combination of the above.  Get someone to give you a legal opinion and then present that to Paramount with a "hey, they said this was probably legal anyway, but we wanted to ask nicely to be sure."


-----Original Message-----
From: Unicode [mailto:unicode-bounces at] On Behalf Of Mark E. Shoulson
Sent: Tuesday, 15 November 2016 5:19 PM
To: unicode at
Subject: Re: The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back

On 11/15/2016 07:31 PM, Mark Davis ☕️ wrote:
> > However, it appears relatively settled that one cannot claim
> copyright in an alphabet...
> We know that these parties tend to be litigious, so we have to be 
> careful. "relatively settled" is not good enough.
> We do not want to be the ones responsible (and liable) for making a 
> determination as to whether that is settled. Nor do we want to pay the 
> legal fees necessary to make a water-tight determination.
> That is why if there is any question as to the IP issues, we leave it 
> up to the proposers to get absolutely rock-solid clearance (eg from 
> the Tolkien estate for Tengwar, or from Paramount for Klingon). The 
> only other alternative I can think of is if the proposers provide 
> indemnification for any legal costs that could obtain from a legal 
> suit of us or our vendors.
> Mark
> //

How about legal counsel on the matter?

We're a little hesitant of asking Paramount/CBS about this, because of course, asking means that we think maybe they can say no, and we don't want to imply that.  So I'm thinking/hoping maybe we can do some research by a qualified legal expert (and not us armchair-lawyers, "yeah, it looks pretty settled to me...") to make a determination.

I'm trying to find out some more information about the KLI's pIqaD font, which it has been using and distributing for decades, during some of which time it was licensed by Paramount, and which apparently was *not* covered in the licensing agreements—precisely because typefaces are
*not* copyrightable in the US!  (I thought they were, though... like I said, I'm trying to find out more about this.)  And all that time without objection from Paramount.  Not a slam-dunk argument, but it's something.


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