A Russian company has 'privatised' the popular 'smiley', the smiling face symbol popularly used by netizens to express their feelings, and will now seek royalty for its commercial use.
SuperFone, specialising in mobile phone advertising, has registered the smiley sign as its official trademark, Russian business daily Kommersant reported.
The move will allow the company to demand royalties for commercial use of the smiley. Russian entrepeneur Oleg Teterin, president of SuperFone, has been engaged in a legal battle over the smiley copyright since 2008.
Back then the founder of Superfon claimed that he would charge royalties from such companies as McDonald's and Nestle that use the sign in outdoor advertising and also the popular social networking site Odnoklassniki.ru (classmates) as well as ICQ Internet messenger.
The company said that it would not charge common Internet users for putting smileys in their messages or Web posts.