I'm doing some research into the laws surround typefaces when used in a physical product, such as house numbers or home decor lettering. I would use Illustrator to create the vectors. What type of license is needed for this use on a commercial scale? Are there different "tiers" based on company size? Does the legality change if the manufacturer does or doesn't include the typeface name in the product name? Is it legal to modify a glyph for this use?
The particular fonts I'm interested in are Helvetica and Futura.
You must read the actual EULA (End User License Agreement) for any font to determine what if any restrictions apply for the particular font. The EULA may or may not allow embedding of the font within generated PDF, EPS, PostScript, or eBook. It may or may not allow serving the font for websites. It may or may not allow so-called “outlining” or even rasterization of text to get around embedding or other restrictions. The EULA may or may not call for additional royalties based on embedded fonts in distributed PDF files. The EULA may or may not allow use of a font design in a commercial product and if it does allow, whether additional royalties are due.
We cannot and will not provide generalities here beyond the above. Contact the vendor/foundry for the font(s) you wish to license to determine exactly what the EULA for the font(s) allow, don't allow, and/or require additional royalties/fees for.