Tobias Frere-Jones and Jonathan Hoefler, the Beatles of the type world, aren’t getting back together any time soon. But their bitter lawsuit over ownership of the world-famous type foundry that once bore both their names has, at least, come to an end.
According to documents filed today with the New York County Supreme Court, the lawsuit between Hoefler and his former business partner Frere-Jones has been settled out of court. All other details of the settlement are confidential. Reached by phone, Frere-Jones told Co. Design he could not comment on the settlement.
Founded in the early 1990s, Hoefler & Frere Jones (now Hoefler & Co.) is a legendary type foundry responsible for some of the most popular new fonts to come out in the past 20 years. With a library of almost 800 typefaces, including the architecture-inspired Gotham font and the eponymous Hoefler Text, the foundry boasts a list of famous clients as long as your arm, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Tiffany, Nike, Hewlett-Packard, and more.
On the surface, all seemed well between the two partners, but in January, the type world was shocked when Frere-Jones accused Hoefler of having scammed him out of his half of the multi-million-dollar business. Describing Hoefler’s actions as “the most profound treachery and sustained exploitation of friendship, trust, and confidence,” Frere-Jones quickly sued his former partner, providing dozens of incriminating emails and chat logs as evidence that he had been cheated. Meanwhile, claiming that Frere-Jones had never been anything besides an employee, Hoefler changed the name of the type foundry to Hoefler & Co, while also asking the court to dismiss the case against him.
Although the matter is now seemingly resolved, it’s not clear what this means for the future of Hoefler & Co, or the ownership of the popular typefaces that Frere-Jones said he had been tricked into turning over to his partner. We’ll update when we know more. In the meantime, you can read more about Frere-Jones’s allegations against Hoefler, and the lessons designers can learn from their failed partnership.