Oleg Teterin, president of mobile ad company Superfone, has managed to trademarked the ;) wink emoticon in Russia. The Russian entrepreneur has made clear he will not be tracking down individuals for use of the emoticon but will however be monitoring company usage.
In comments to Russian television channel NTV, he says
“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,”
Companies will be sent legal warnings if use of the symbol is discovered without his permission. Legal use can be bought with an annual license which according to Teterin
“won’t cost that much — tens of thousands of dollars.”
He also said since other similar emoticons — :-) or ;) or :) — resemble the one he has trademarked, use of those symbols could also fall under his ownership.
Scott Fahlman, a professor at the Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, claims that he was the first to use three keystrokes, 25 years ago. In addition, critics doubt the trademark’s legal basis as the emoticon has been in the public domain for years.
The president of Russian social networking site odnoklassniki.ru, Nikita Sherman said:
“You’re not likely to find any retards in Russia who’ll pay Superfone for the use of emoticons”.
According to Russian media, Mr Teterin is not the first person to try to trademark the ;-) symbol in Russia. Kommersant said in 2005 a St Petersburg court upheld an appeal from the German corporation Siemens, which was sued by a Russian man claiming he held the trademark.