December 12, 2008

Smiley face has its day in court

A Russian businessman's attempt to cash in on the smiley face symbol was frowned upon by Russia's patent service Rospatent Friday.

Rospatent rejected Oleg Teterin's claim that he could license the smiley face icon and demand royalties from its use, Novosti reported.

Teterin registered the trademark for his mobile phone company Superphone, Russian Infocenter reported.

But, the smiley does not identify the company and cannot be used as its trademark and cannot be registered as such, a Rospatent official said.

The smiley face was traced to the 1960s and was used as a symbol in Britain's acid house music movement in the 1980s, Novosti said.

Successfully registering the symbol would have meant royalties coming in from dozens of companies, including Nestle, McDonald's and Wal-Mart.

But, finding a company willing to go along with him may have been difficult, Russian Infocenter said.