back to article Russian's emoticon trade mark won't wash with EU

A Russian businessman says that he has trade marked the emoticon and that commercial uses of punctuation marks to convey a wink will require a licence costing over $10,000. But a trade mark attorney said that his demands will be irrelevant to uses in the EU. The BBC reports that entrepreneur Oleg Teterin claims that his …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think Smile intermittently use a :) emoticon as a trademark.

    However, trademarks are only an issue when there is likely to be confusion between the trades. Thus, Smith the candlestick maker has no trademark issues with Smith the butcher until the butcher starts making bone candlesticks.

    The Russian needed to copyright the mark to charge licence fees, and unfortunately for him there's prior art.

  2. Andus McCoatover

    19th Century??

    "According to Wikipedia, emoticons can be traced back to the 19th century. The first documented use of a colon, hyphen and closed-parenthesis to convey happiness dates from 1982"

    Wouldn't that be the 20th Century, or has someone substituted my blue lozenge-shaped anti-Dementia tabs for a placebo? (Viagra maybe?) © ;-)

  3. Andy


    Surely 1982 was in the 20th Century?

  4. Simon Williams

    And what trade does ;-) represent, exactly?

    Doesn't the concept of 'prior art' apply to trade marks as it does to patents? In other words, the fact that millions of people have been freely using this sequence of characters for years before the Crazy Rusky tried to grab it should have prevented the trade mark being granted in the frist place...or do the characters not exist on a Cyrillic keyboard?

    Smiley face, so sue me.

  5. ShaggyDoggy

    TM is not (C)

    The (TM) affix has totally no meaning in the UK.

    (o) (o)

  6. Dave Fox

    @ Andus and Andy

    I think you misread the article. It says that * emoticons* can be traced back to the 19th century - the :-) is just a specific example, and that dates back to 1982.

    From Wikipedia: "Although historical antecedents go back to the nineteenth century, the emoticon as we presently use it traces directly back to a proposal by Scott Fahlman in a message of 19th September 1982"

  7. Rock Lobster

    the prior art thing

    "Doesn't the concept of 'prior art' apply to trade marks as it does to patents?"

    No, obviously not. Just think of trademarks like e.g. Apple or Sun, those words might be even a little bit older than the first use of emoticons ;) so how would anyone have been able to use register those as a trademark then, if there was such a thing as "prior art" for trademarks?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Why should they?

    Usually the articles I read are the other way around. Russia is the wild west of internet and IP where anything goes. Internet criminals love hosting things in Russia because they know Russia will cordially extend their middle finger to anyone attempting to put the brakes on it.

    Why should Europe (or the US for that matter) honor any intellectual property or trademarks coming out of Russia if they won't reciprocate?

  9. Marvin the Martian
    Paris Hilton

    <they have effectively become descriptive terms in common parlance>

    It sounds the other way around, not

    <<they have effectively become descriptive terms in common parlance>>


    <<they have originated and remained as descriptive terms for common parlance>>

    PH because it's a writing-dodgers topic

  10. Alan Esworthy

    I just do not care.

    So there!


  11. James O'Brien

    Hey Reg mods

    Any chance we can get this idiots....erm businessmans E-mail address so that I can email him with his trademark? Thank you ;-)

  12. Daniel B.

    Remember Despair?

    I remember that Despair trademarked the :-( emoticon in an act of protest; basically to show how stupid it was that someone could actually trademark such a thing. They "asked" for $$$ to use the :-(, but it really was more of a joke on the whole thing. They got slammed by the slashdotters who didn't get the joke.

    I really hope this guy is pulling off a similar thing.

  13. Rioblaze

    PDF of that TM certificate

    here, PDF of that TM certificate:

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Then they were two

    So now the Patent Office of Russia is using the same guideline as the Patent Office in the USA ?

    Somebody call a virologist, there's a worldwide outbreak of incompetence in public office.

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