According to news sources, Oleg Teterin, president of the mobile ad company Superfone, said that he doesn't plan on tracking down individual users following the decision by the federal patent agency. He told the press:
“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. Legal use will be possible after buying an annual license from us and it won't cost that much; tens of thousands of dollars!”
Companies will be sent legal warnings if they use the symbol without his permission. 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. There is just one slight problem. Scott Fahlman, a professor at the Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, claims that he was the first to use three keystrokes, a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis, as a horizontal “smiley face” in a computer message 25 years ago. Can he prove it? (Aye, there is the copyright rub!)
The reaction of other Russian Internet entrepreneurs to this odd event was understandable. Alexander Manis, the director of a broadband Internet and mobile company said:
“Imagine the next wise-guy who trademarks the 33 letters of the Russian alphabet and then says anyone who uses the Russian alphabet has to send him money. It's absurd.”
The owner of an Internet cafe and bookstore, Maksim Mashkov, said that he doubted the trademark's legal basis since the symbol has existed in the public domain for years.
Time will tell about this silly turn of copyright events. I guess the only thing one can do is wait and…wink!