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Russian Businessman Trademarks The Emoticon


According to the BBC, a Russian businessman has trademarked the ;-) emoticon:

Entrepreneur Oleg Teterin said the trademark for the ;-) emoticon was granted to him by Russia's federal patent agency.

But critics doubt the trademark's legal basis as the emoticon has been in the public domain for years.

Mr Teterin said he would chase firms using the symbol without permission.

"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," Mr Teterin said in comments on the Russian TV channel, NTV.

"Legal use will be possible after buying an annual licence from us," he was quoted by the newspaper Kommersant as saying.

"It won't cost that much -- tens of thousands of dollars," added the businessman, who is president of Superfone, a company that sells advertising on mobile phones.

But he said he does not plan on tracking down individual users of the emoticon.

That's probably for the best. All those lawsuits against emoticon-happy teenagers or overenthusiastic emailers might become a little time-consuming.

Does that mean I can trademark the exclamation point? ;-)

-- Luke Allnutt


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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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