;-) Available For Yearly License Fee Thanks To Russian Trademark

from the so-sue-me-;-) dept

Way back in 2001, Despair Inc., makers of the world’s greatest calendar (I’ve got a bunch) trademarked the emoticon ๐Ÿ™ and jokingly threatened to sue pretty much everyone. Some folks in the press thought they were serious, and it got into the news. It looks like someone over in Russia is trying to do the same thing… but it’s not clear if he’s joking. Oleg Teterin, president of some mobile advertising company, not only has received the trademark, but says that any business using it, or any similar emoticon, now needs to pay a license fee: “Legal use will be possible after buying an annual licence from us. It won’t cost that much – tens of thousands of dollars.” He does make clear that he’s only talking about businesses using the emoticon, not consumers, but even then some people wonder if this is just a big publicity stunt. Either way, it speaks volumes about the competency of the Russian trademark agency to consider an emoticon that’s already in such widespread common usage (and has been for decades) available for trademark protection.

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Comments on “;-) Available For Yearly License Fee Thanks To Russian Trademark”

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Jeffry Houser (profile) says:

I'm confused...

First off, did he receive a patent or a trademark? You use both words in the article.

Let’s assume that we all agree that trademarks laws exist to protect the consumer from getting confused.

If a company has a unique use of a common symbol for commercial purposes; it seems to me it would not be far fetched to get that use trademarked.

I’m not sure about Russian trademark law, however I wonder what exactly is this guys use of the trademark?

Vic says:

Oh yeah, I’ve seen a report on Russian TV yesterday. The guy seemed dead serious. (In the same report they mentioned that the smiley as we know it now was actually first drawn in 1982.) But does not look like anybody took it seriously. One of the suggestions was to trademark the period sign – much more profitable! ๐Ÿ˜‰

PaulT (profile) says:

Yeah, good luck with that. As ever this raises the question – just who exactly are the morons who pass this kind of thing? Surely something like this is obviously both invalid and designed to provide a method for extortion? Doesn’t the insanely well-documented prior use of the symbols get considered?

I do like the way that’s it’s difficult for a mainstream media outlet to report on this without typing ;-)… Can they sue the BBC for reporting on their trademark, I wonder?

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