- Journal Archives
- Volume 18
- Volume 17
- Volume 16
- Volume 15
- Volume 14
- Volume 13
- Volume 12
- Volume 11
- Volume 10
- Volume 9
- Volume 8
- Volume 7
- Volume 6
- Volume 5
- Volume 4
- Volume 3
- Volume 2
- Volume 1
A Russian patent agency has granted a trademark to the ;-) emoticon to Oleg Teterin, owner of Superfone, a company that sells advertisements for mobile phones. The entrepreneur plans to go after corporations who use the symbol without his permission, though points out that this only applies to those who try to profit–so apparently he won’t be scouring the Internet for anyone winking in a blog or email. And for those who do want to use the emoticon commercially, Teterin will sell them an annual license. He also points out that similar marks–such as ;) or :-)–may also fall under his ownership.
Of course, Russian business owners are calling the move a gimmick, saying that the symbol is actually in the public domain. After all, emoticons as we know them have been around since at least as early as 1982. However, there is precedent for this sort of thing, even in the US; in 1998, Despair, Inc. was awarded a trademark in :-( for use in “greeting cards, posters and art prints.” Also, a Finnish law student trademarked a number of emoticons (including =) which is more popular in Finland since the two keys are next to each other on the keyboard) in 2006.
Still, it’s unclear as to whether Teterin will have any success enforcing his trademark. The president of a Russian social networking site stated, “You’re not likely to find any retards in Russia who’ll pay Superfone for the use of emoticons.” Perhaps a bit harsh, but she may have a point. Emoticons have become so ubiquitous that it seems unlikely that they aren’t in the public domain. It’s like trying to trademark the use of ?! to indicate alarm.
I just hope that no one tries to trademark the emoticon :-o since that’s the best way to express how I feel about this entire situation.
Recent Blog Posts
- If You Build It, They Will Come: Baseball and the Reopening of Cuba
- First Circuit Aligns With Third: Actavis Extends Beyond Cash Settlements
- Current Issues in Technology Law: Dr. Asma Vranaki Analyzes Data Privacy Regulation in the Context of Facebook Advertisements
- Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law Rises in National Law Journal Rankings
- Dancing Babies: The Ninth Circuit May Have Protected Them from Computer Algorithms
- Starbucks’ Next Top Model: It Could Be You
Tagsadvertising antitrust Apple books career celebrities contracts copyright copyright infringement courts creative content criminal law entertainment Facebook FCC film/television financial First Amendment games Google government intellectual property internet JETLaw journalism lawsuits legislation media medicine Monday Morning JETLawg music NFL patents privacy progress publicity rights radio social networking sports Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) technology telecommunications trademarks Twitter U.S. Constitution