Urban Eola

Trademarking the smiley face

The famous yellow smiley face that we all know represents more than just happiness and good times. It represents lawsuits. Just like the Wave, there are disputes as to who first designed and trademarked the symbol. And there are big money implications.

The smiley face was supposedly created by Harvey Wall in 1965 (with no credit to Forrest Gump). However, Wall didn't trademark it. A London-based company, SmileyWorld, owned by the Loufrani family trademarked the smiley face in France in 1971 and also own over 100 worldwide smiley trademarks. Total sales of products with a SmileyWorld license is roughly $100 million a year.

In the U.S., SmileyWorld began the effort to assert the company's trademark in 1997 which led to a showdown with Wal-Mart, who has reportedly been using the face since 1996. Smiley Face is Serious To Company - New York Times.

SmileyWorld intends to inject new vigor into the face, formerly associated with the 1970's and acid-rock music, by linking the smiley to high-end products sold in exclusive smiley shops in Paris, Los Angeles and New York within the next couple years.

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posted by Michael Tavani @ 12:09 PM |

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