Moscow — How much would you pay for a ;-)?
A Russian businessman has trademarked the emoticon — or combination of punctuation marks — used to convey a wink in text messages and e-mail.
Oleg Teterin, president of the mobile ad company Superfone, said Thursday he doesn’t plan on tracking down individual users following the decision by the federal patent agency.
“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,” he said in comments to NTV.
Companies will be sent legal warnings if they use the symbol without his permission, he said.
“Legal use will be possible after buying an annual license from us,” he was quoted by Kommersant as saying. “It 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.
Other Russian Internet entrepreneurs reacted to the effort predictably —