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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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