Why an emoticon won't get a trade mark in the EU :-(

A Russian businessman says that he has trade marked the emoticon and that commercial uses of punctuation marks to convey a wink will require a licence costing over $10,000. A trade mark attorney said that his demands will be irrelevant to uses in the EU.

The BBC reports that entrepreneur Oleg Teterin claims that his registration for a trade mark over the sequence of semi-colon, hyphen and closed-parenthesis – ;-) – has been granted by Russia's federal patent agency.

Teterin told Russian TV channel NTV that companies will be asked to pay an annual licence fee of "tens of thousands of dollars" to use the emoticon. He will not charge individuals who use punctuation marks to wink at each other in their electronic communications.