Those familiar with the documentary Helvetica will remember the dynamic typography partnership of Tobias Frere-Jones and Jonathan Hoefler. Their typeface Gotham is kinda the new Helvetica–remember the Obama “HOPE” posters? That was Gotham.

Turns out the Hoefler/Frere-Jones partnership, however, may not have been a “partnership” in a strict legal sense.

For 15 years, TFJ claims he was led to believe that their business was a partnership. Hoefler, apparently the more business-minded of the two, disputes that, stating that Frere-Jones was an employee and not a partner. The two have differing opinions on verbal agreements about the nature of their business relationship, but there was evidently no formal partnership agreement in writing. They’ve gone their separate ways and TFJ is now suing Hoefler for $20 million.

It’s a fascinating and sad story.

At the very least, one lesson is this: always get it in writing.