[Scribus] Color swatches - Legal and technical issues

jon info
Mon Jan 29 02:11:16 CET 2007

You don't need to read my blahblah - I leave it here because I wrote to 
much to simply delete it .... just procede to the link to newsforge :-)

Hi Oliver, sometimes ago there had been an similar discussion. As far 
as I know someone made the proposal
to import the colors via an eps. I don't think any license can exclude 
the use of imported color descriptions if the eps
is used in the document in any way - and if it's only for the reason 
that it is not possible to do so, as long as you
want colored objects in the eps and the layout file seperating to the 
same plate.

Pantone sells colortables and color-definitions. I really don't think 
they want it to be in the public domain.
It's not only about the color names (as here suggested) it's about the 
RGB, (?Lab) and CMYK values (for Monitors and Printers).
I don't know how save (in the meaning of copyright infringement) it 
would be to simply adopt these from existing tables.
But if it is so - I am not sure why anyone pays for a license.

> "When all those companies developed products, they all first came out 
> in black and white," he recalls."When they came out in color, they 
> said they needed Pantone colors, and we said, ?Fine, we'll give you 
> Pantone colors. We'll send you a license agreement. You have to pay a 
> royalty.'" Now more than 400 firms license the Pantone name, 
> contributing about 15% of revenue.

One of Adobes so nicely created License Agreements 
(http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=1916) for a 
Color Table Upgrade for Illustrator (around 2000?) says:

If the software is designed for use with an application software 
product (the "Host Application") published by Adobe; Adobe grants you a 
non-exclusive license to use such software with the Host Application 
only; provided you possess a valid license from Adobe for the Host 
Application. Except as set forth below; such software is licensed to 
you subject to the terms and conditions of the End User License 
Agreement from Adobe governing your use of the Host Application.

This is absurd. It's Illustrator. A program to create AND export 
graphics. Okay, but this is the license.

BTW in this case imo L-a-b to sRGB conversion might lead to unwanted 

Another legal point might be the use of a table including the Pantone 
names AND providing it to others.
The trademark holder of the name is still Pantone. Might be a 
workaround to call them Enotnap and add 100 to all names.

At least I found this: Seems to be a fair article answering most if not 
all of your questions:


  Over the years, I've observed that for every favorable review written 
about the GIMP or other free graphics applications, there is another 
review denouncing it as useless because "it doesn't support Pantone." 
Although I've accepted this is how the universe works, it's worth 
noting that the unfavorable articles are generally accompanied by some 
misconceptions about what Pantone is and isn't used for, and the 
legality of supporting it.

Misconceptions about the purpose and usage of Pantone are to be 
expected, since very few graphic designers are regular Linux users 
(much less coders). The legal issues, on the other hand, are probably 
kept intentionally murky by Pantone to discourage others from 
competing. Let's take a look at both.

We don't buy colors, we buy peace of mind

Pantone's bread and butter is the Pantone Matching System?(PMS), an 
ink-matching system widely used by designers and printers for color 
reproduction. To use it, you must buy a Pantone swatch book -- a 
printed and bound collection of cards containing hundreds upon hundreds 
of colored rectangles labeled with identification numbers. When you 
design your business card or garage sale poster and need an 
eye-catching mauve to really make it stand out, you find the color you 
want in the swatch book and give its number to the printer when you 
drop off your finished design.

The printer looks up the number in his Pantone instructions, and mixes 
a special ink for it with Pantone's recipe (which includes inks outside 
traditional RGB color models, including neons and metallic finishes). 
If everything goes according to plan, the finished product and the card 
you chose at the beginning look the same.

Nowhere in this process is special behavior required of the software 
you used to create your design. Nowhere does the phrase "Pantone 
compatible" or "Pantone compliant" arise. That's because the crux of 
the system is the printed swatch books and the printer's instructions. 
Applications such as QuarkXPress and Adobe Photoshop may have a list of 
Pantone numbered colors available through their built-in color chooser, 
but they also warn you that what you see on screen is not guaranteed to 
match the printed output, and refer you to the printed swatch book.

It's also important to note that Pantone Matching is for spot colors 
only, or colors that don't blend with the other elements on the page. 
You can certainly choose pretty colors out of the swatch book to paint 
with, but you've then left the world of spot colors and entered CMYK. 
Pantone Matching is no longer involved, and you must rely on calibrated 
displays and printers to match colors.

That said, many people choose colors from Pantone books even when 
working in CMYK because the books are a good reference; using them 
yields far fewer surprises than picking colors from an RGB monitor.

Colorful language

Think back to that Photoshop color chooser. It presents a list of 
numbered colors; when you select one, Photoshop changes the active 
"painting color" to an RGB value that is as close a match as possible. 
"If that's all that happens," we wonder, "can't the GIMP, Inkscape, and 
Scribus do the same?"

In theory, yes. If you search the Web, you can find homemade colors and 
palettes for many graphics apps that refer back to the Pantone numbers. 
The holdup is that an application that packages or ships a color 
palette derived from the Pantone swatches runs the risk of legal action 
from Pantone.

Exactly what legal action Pantone would take is unclear, but its "About 
Us" Web page claims that "an unauthorized claim by third parties either 
as principals or agents, inferring that any referenced color or color 
system is the same as, or equivalent to, a color standard or color 
system of Pantone, may be a violation of Pantone's proprietary rights" 
-- without being specific. Is it patents? Copyrights? Trademarks?

It seems as if the company is being intentionally unclear; certainly by 
doing so, Pantone can wave a bigger, scarier legal club and chill a 
wider variety of competition.  A Groklaw discussion raises the question 
of whether any of Pantone's patents apply to the color matching system 
itself. It is widely agreed that colors and numbers cannot be 
copyrighted or patented -- though perhaps Pantone would claim that its 
collection of color swatches as a whole constitutes a "database" which 
could be copyrighted, much like the phone book.

Certainly the simplest claim would be trademark misappropriation or 
dilution towards someone who produced a color palette marketed as 
compatible with Pantone's. This is what prevents open source products 
from including built-in Pantone color choosers.

Pantone has nothing to lose by licensing use of the Pantone palette 
free-of-charge, since the company makes its money from printers' 
supplies and book sales (which aren't cheap, and you are encouraged to 
replace the books annually to ward off fading and long-term color 
shifts). Pantone probably has some additional customers to gain by 
allowing free software to use its technology. But the company doesn't 
appear interested.

Color me bad

So marketing your own full-blown replacement for Pantone Matching is 
out of the question, and shipping a palette of colors clearly mimicking 
the Pantone color swatches puts you at risk for a lawsuit. What's an 
open source designer to do?

Fortunately, Pantone Matching relies almost entirely on the swatch 
books to function. Like the secret agents of conflicts past, the only 
reason your color message gets decoded at all when it reaches the print 
shop is that you both have the same code book. With a Pantone book in 
hand, you can tag your designs with Pantone numbers to your heart's 
content without crossing any legal lines.

Specifically, anything drawn in scalable vector graphics (SVG) format 
has fill and stroke color XML attribute; with a program such as 
Inkscape, you can place tags with your desired Pantone numbers into the 
drawing itself. Thankfully, graphics juggernaut Adobe is a big 
proponent of SVG, and most print shops will accept it along with 
Freehand and Illustrator files.

Scribus can do two-color and three-color separations, although it does 
not build in those functions at this stage. To use them, read the 
Scribus wiki, follow the spot color tutorial, and output your final 
product in PDF/X-3 format -- a stripped-down refinement of PDF 
optimized for professional printing. It's probably obvious, but 
one-color designs do not need separations.

When you reach four colors and up, however, CMYK and not spot-color 
support becomes the issue. For that, there is a GIMP-CMYK plugin in 
development, and Imagemagick and libTIFF support CMYK (with color 
profiles), but I would not rule out being nice to your printer and 
asking if their folks would convert the images themselves. In the real 
world, you'll make multiple trips to the printer for revisions and hard 
proofs, so you might as well make friends.

Pantone's cloud of legal menace is relevant only to vendors; users have 
never needed permission or license fees to tell a print shop to output 
their letterhead in a particular color. I am skeptical of the broad 
"proprietary rights" claim asserted at Pantone's Web site, but the 
niche market is so small that I doubt we will ever see a good test case 
go to trial. If that does happen, the fallout will be interesting to 
watch. In the meantime, free software users need only educate 
themselves to work around the inconvenience.

> Am Montag, 29. Januar 2007 00:11 schrieb Olivier BERTEN:
>> Hi!
>> I've been looking around about color swatches in Scribus these last 
>> days
>> and I happen to ask myself some questions.
>> Legal issues :
>> - Is it ok to use proprietary swatches (read Pantone) outside of the
>> application it's distributed with?
> As long as you have obtained a licence (a demo licence should 
> suffice), why
> not? After all, it's just a list with names :)
>> - Is it ok to convert these swatches into another format?
> As long you do it for your own purposes, why not?
>> Concretely: you can install a demo version of InDesign or QuarkXPress,
>> which are distributed with a dozen of proprietary swatches. The 
>> XPress 7
>> ones are in xml format so it would be easy to import and the Adobe 
>> Color
>> Book binary format is quite easy to read. So the question is now: is 
>> it
>> conceivable to include these formats into the colour import function?
> Can you please check the licences? If you think you can achieve 
> anything, did
> you also have a look at Corel's palette files (*.cpl)?
>> I'm trying to make a convertor for acb (CS2 and CS3) to sla:
>> http://www.olivierberten.info/scribus/#acb2sla
>> It's not yet fully functionnal since the L*a*b data are given as-is...
>> and Scribus doesn't yet support it...
>> (if someone has a Lab2sRGB convert script in PHP, it would be 
>> helpful...
>> I'm not very good at PHP maths...)
>> Technical issues
>> - I've seen L*a*b support is in project
>> <http://wiki.scribus.net/index.php/Colour_Requirements> but it's not 
>> on
>> the roadmap. It would be quite useful for the spot colours since all
>> software now use the L*a*b data in their spot colour lists...
>> - The current swatch format is quite basic and doesn't include "spot"
>> info (I've started the page
>> <http://wiki.scribus.net/index.php/New_Colours_Format> following the
>> 1.3.6 stage of the roadmap)
>> - By default, the colour list is alphabetically sorted. Is it possible
>> to disable this? In some swatches, the colour order is quite 
>> significant...
> Can you check the bug tracker if there's already a feature request. In 
> case it
> isn't, can you file one?
>> Olivier
> Olivier, if I may, I strongly encourage you to explore the technical
> opportunities, as your approach sounds very interesting to me. Do you 
> think
> it would be possible to do this in Python? All major FOSS graphics apps
> support Python, and it'd be wonderful if there was a Python script 
> available
> to import licenced palettes.
> Cheers!
> Christoph
> _________

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