;-) 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 :-( 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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Filed Under: emoticons, russia, trademark


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  1. icon
    Jeffry Houser (profile), 12 Dec 2008 @ 8:36am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    TDR, 12 Dec 2008 @ 8:38am

    Just gotta say one thing:

    ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    eleete, 12 Dec 2008 @ 8:45am

    Re: I'm confused...

    Despair Inc. Trademarked :-( Russian guy patented ;-).
    Clear now ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Erik, 12 Dec 2008 @ 8:47am

    The sad thing is that some companies will probably pony up to pay him. Not a bad scam, it is, at least, kind of funny. But its still a scam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Vic, 12 Dec 2008 @ 8:57am

    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! ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    billy, 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:02am

    ;-)

    i don't think anyone outside of Russia would be too concerned about this, even if the guy were serious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    some random guy, 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    >the smiley as we know it now was actually first drawn in 1982.)

    yes. the smiley was invented by Scott Fahlman at CMU. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/smiley/
    Maybe he should get in on the action ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:37am

    What about if we...

    go like this instead (-; ???

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:51am

    Re: What about if we...

    Sorry, I have a patent pending on the processing of reversing an emoticon to by-pass emoticon patents. ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Jeffry Houser (profile), 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: I'm confused...

    According to other news reports I've seen--including the link in this post; the Russian guy trademarked.

    I suspect this is just a typo in the techdirt article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Mike (profile), 12 Dec 2008 @ 9:57am

    Re: I'm confused...

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

    I messed up. It was trademark. Don't know how that happened.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    mslade, 12 Dec 2008 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: What about if we...

    Erm, I have a patent pending on pending patents. You will be hearing from my lawyer soon.

    And before it gets said, I am also holding a patent on taking recursive jokes too far, so if anyone continues this thread you will also be hearing from my lawyer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Bill Phillip, 12 Dec 2008 @ 11:47am

    Everyone should send him an email with an emoticon expressing how they feel about this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Bill Phillip, 12 Dec 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Re: :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    PaulT (profile), 12 Dec 2008 @ 12:21pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2008 @ 8:52pm

    Re:

    Can Coca-Cola sue NBC if they put up a graphic of the Coca-Cola symbol while reporting on something having to do with Coca-Cola? No. So I don't see why the news media couldn't print a ;-) if they wanted to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2008 @ 12:12pm

    I wonder if the secret trade negotiations include addressing silliness like this and how to handle it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2008 @ 3:10pm

    Haha

    OK - check's in the mail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Bill Phillip, 16 Dec 2008 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: :-)

    He replied to my email asking, "Who are you?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Peter E Retep, 7 Jan 2009 @ 12:35pm

    smiley emoticon origination

    Mike Jittlov, of Mickey Mouse Anniversary shorts fame, and the genius behind the Wizard of Speed and Time, claimed many times to have invented and published the smiley face icon before this in his high school newspaper in L.A.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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