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I'm having a heck of a time getting a straight answer for this. Hope somebody here can help!

If I'm a small commercial company that's creating an Android application for a paid service, what sort of license do I need to buy to legally use Helvetica Neue (and a couple other variations of Helvetica)?

Where do I buy it?


Edit: I got the following response when inquiring about purchasing:

Thank you for the inquiry. We have a special license for mobile developers that enables them to distribute fonts in a title for two years of the title for a paid-up license fee. We can provide you with a license to distribute the Helvetica Neue regular, medium, light, bold and Italic fonts with unlimited units of a single application title only on the Android platform for $3,250. This is fee for two year distribution of the font in that title. There are no unit reporting requirements under this license. If you also want to include the iOS platform the license fee would be $3,750 instead of $3,250.

The license fees include warranty and indemnification from Monotype Imaging. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like to proceed with a license. We look forward to working with you.

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Can you clarify whether you want to embed the font in your app so that your app can generate text using that font, or if you are only wanting to include pre-rendered text in the form of images which you've generated on your computer? It's very important that this distinction is made because it would completely change the correct answer. –  thomasrutter Nov 1 '12 at 2:12
    
Sure thing. I want to embed the font so I can set the typeface on a few of the UI elements programmatically. I won't be using any saved images that contain text. –  loeschg Nov 2 '12 at 14:45
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The font itself (with its variants) can be bought from Linotype. Font licences change depending on the foundry, and also depending on use. You will for sure need to buy at least one license for commercial use. But as always with font licensing, it's best to ask the foundry directly, as each one is different.

From http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/102925/using-fonts-in-your-applications:

"If you bundle a font with your app, you have to take care to comply with any license terms under which that font is published. If you buy a font for personal use from Adobe, you are not license to redistribute it (...) You will only need to obtain patent licenses if you yourself provide the code that translates a font's data file into a screen glyph. If you are using the type rendering engine that is built into your mobile device's operating system then you don't need to worry about the patents."

That being said, if you need a free font, an excellent alternative is Liberation Sans.

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Font foundries typically license their fonts under either a "Desktop" license, or a "Web font" license. The desktop license only allows you to use the font on your own computer (or, a certain number, such as 5, computers your own). You may not embed it in an application or document that you are selling/giving out, even if it has been converted into another format.

The web license is intended for letting you embed the font in a website and distribute it, but usually only on said website, though its definitions might extend to an Android app, but they also might not - you'll actually have to read the license. Thankfully, font licenses aren't usually impossibly difficult to read. Typically there are terms in it that are relatively specific about what kind of embedding you're allowed to do, what formats and mediums, and how many (for instance, how many visitors per month your site gets).

I suspect that you may have to contact the font foundry directly to obtain a license or make your enquiry.

You may well find that licensing such a big name font as Helvetica Neue is going to be too expensive to justify it.

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I thought the actual shape of the font was not copyrightable. Would a re-drawn image count as "another format"? –  Yisela Oct 31 '12 at 3:54
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That is correct, but isn't that a separate question? As far as I understood it, your original question was not about including pre-generated graphics in your app (which requires no license for any fonts used, BTW), but actually embedding a font in your app. If it's the latter, then my answer applies and you do need a special license. You may need to clarify this in your question above. –  thomasrutter Oct 31 '12 at 3:58
    
Whoops, somehow I seem to have got the impression that you were the O.P. - sorry! –  thomasrutter Nov 3 '12 at 14:49
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