;-) trademark claim makes us go :-o and then >:-[

By Jacqui Cheng | Published: December 14, 2008 – 03:23PM CT

There are certain things on the Internet that the general public uses with great abandon: acronyms (lol!), txt speak, and emoticons. If you run a business in Russia and you make use of the winky smiley face, however, then you may soon find yourself being asked to pay royalties to Oleg Teterin, an entrepreneur who claims he owns the trademark to the popular emoticon in Russia.

Teterin said in an interview with Russian TV channel NTV this week that Russia's patent agency had granted him the trademark to ;-), and that he wouldn't hesitate to go after companies who have exploited the emoticon without paying up. He noted, according to the BBC, that a license would cost "tens of thousands of dollars," and would be renewed on a yearly basis.

"I want to highlight that this is only directed at corporations, companies that are trying to make a profit without the permission of the trademark holder," Teterin clarified to NTV, adding that he didn't intend to try to collect money from individuals e-winking at one another.

In addition to the wink, Teterin believes that other emoticons that look similar to it could also fall under his trademark, such as 😉 (a wink with no nose, circa 1991—very rare on the Internet these days), and regular old smiley faces 🙂 and :-), both with and without noses. It's unclear at this time whether Teterin also plans to pursue those who add bodies or hats onto their winking emoticons, such as *<;-) or ;-)->–<.

Sue this cat immediately

Critics have unsurprisingly jumped all over Teterin's comments, pointing out that such emoticons are so old and widespread that they are public domain and cannot be trademarked. "You're not likely to find any retards in Russia who'll pay Superfone for the use of emoticons," Nikita Sherman, president of Russian social networking site odnoklassniki.ru told the BBC. (Wow, harsh!) Sherman has a point, though—you won't find many people willing to shell out six figures to use a smiley face anywhere in the world. Just in case Teterin's tactic proves successful, however, we're sure there's already a line forming of entrepreneurs looking to trademark the ASCII rose, curly brackets in any form, and the use of an exclamation point next to a question mark to express extreme shock.


4 Replies to “;-) trademark claim makes us go :-o and then >:-[”

  1. WTF? Uh Oh. Hmmm? I wonder if this Teterin is not claiming rights to “WTF” as well? 😆 Maybe I should trademark some of MY euphemisms:Fugg … and Shiâ„¢ 😀

  2. Then again, since when do companies, corporations utilize Smileys & Emoticons? I might use them gratuitously with great abandon on Message Boards and Blogs, but I definitely don’t use them on business stuff.I guess this Teterin is like a Cyber Santa … well, in the sense that he’s got a list … he’s checking it once, he’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Yep, he’s gonna find out who’s been using HIS Smileys & Emoticons. :rolleyes:

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