I plan to trademark the question mark (?), plus the charming upside Spanish question mark (¿) and the German ß letter. In fact, I might as well trademark any letter with an umlaut, (Ü) or a cedilla (ç) And I might as well claim the trademark ™ and copyright © symbols, while I’m at it.
I may be forced to sue the world’s dictionaries and keyboard manufacturers, if they won’t just start paying on their own accord. Don’t worry, normal people. Of course, I’ll let you use my letters for your own humble non-commercial purposes. I’m only going to claim against the thieving bastards who use my letters for gain without paying me my well-earned compensation.
A Russian businessman has trademarked emoticons. (In the UK, the media usually call rich Russian businessmen “oligarchs” for some reason, as if non-Russian billionaires don’t wield any power. The BBC calls him a businessman so I reckon he’s probably just moderately wealthy)
For instance, 😉 is now one of his.
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,” Mr Teterin said in comments on the Russian TV channel, NTV.
“Legal use will be possible after buying an annual licence from us,” he was quoted by the newspaper Kommersant as saying.
“It won’t cost that much – tens of thousands of dollars,” added the businessman, who is president of Superfone, a company that sells advertising on mobile phones.
But he said he does not plan on tracking down individual users of the emoticon.
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. (from the BBC)
It’s not April 1. Next explanation is a publicity stunt. It’s worked then. (Although it’s hard to think why Russians would be motivated to buy mobile phone adverts on the basis that the company owner has a sharp eye for a scam.)
On reflection, trademarking expressive-punctuation is the standard 21st century business model in a reductio ad absurdum guise.
It doesn’t involve any messy production. (I guess that makes it count as eco-friendly and carbon-neutral.) It doesn’t incur any costs for materials or machinery. It doesn’t really employ any people so it cuts labour costs to the bone. (I don’t think lawyers count as people.) It certainly wouldn’t involve rewarding the creative thinkers who originally started using punctuation marks to express moods in text shorthand. It couldn’t generate any income except through trickery. It’s an entirely imaginary product, made out of screen pixels and worthless in itself.
Doesn’t this sound like most of what passes for the “commanding heights of the economy” now? It’s as if “modes of production” and “relations of production” have been rendered meaningless and irrelevant, as if whole economies can detach themselves from reality for ever. As if economic bubbles can never burst…..