At the end of November 2022, there was a huge wave of warnings for website operators who had integrated Google Fonts. The sheer number of warnings quickly led to suspicions that there was a perfidious business model behind it. Now the Attorney General’s Office in Berlin intervenes and announces searches.
General public prosecutor Berlin investigates Google Fonts warning wave
Because of the “suspicion of (partly) attempted warning fraud and (attempted) extortion” the police are implementing search warrants in Berlin, Hanover, Ratzeburg and Baden-Baden as well as two arrest warrants on behalf of the Berlin public prosecutor’s office, according to the press release of the Berlin public prosecutor’s office.
In total, the case involves 2,418 cases in which warning letters were sent to website operators for the use of Google Fonts and a total sum of 346,000 euros, which is to be enforced.
“The defendants are accused of having sent warning letters by lawyers to private individuals and small traders throughout Germany who have used so-called “Google Fonts” – an interactive directory with over 1,400 fonts that determine the typeface of a website – on their homepages. At the same time, these were offered to avoid civil proceedings against payment of a settlement amount of 170 euros each,” the press release continues.
Over 2,000 affected persons had already paid
420 announcements of persons, who had been warned and who had not paid in the end, are present to the public prosecutor’s office Berlin in the meantime. About 2,000 more people are said to have mistakenly accepted the supposed “settlement offer” out of fear of civil proceedings, it is concluded from an analysis of the account files.
During the investigations, evidence was found, including documents and data carriers, which it is now necessary to evaluate. “They are to give among other things about the number, selection criteria and identity, the actual sales and the exact procedure further information,” it continues.
That the accused with er Abmahnwelle no costs have spared, continues the Attorney General’s Office Berlin. So they would have programmed their own software, which checked a website for the use of Google Fonts. With a second, specially programmed, software, visits to the websites are said to have been automated and faked accordingly.
“The then logged website visits are said to have been the basis for the allegation of data protection violations and the assertion of claims for damages for pain and suffering, which could allegedly have been averted by accepting the “settlement offer”.”