An Indian Civilizational Perspective

War of the Smiley

There is a war of smiley going on between "SmileyWorld" and Walmart! Before we get to the news, here is a little discussion on this ubiquitous Smiley from Wikipedia

An early known instance of using two points and a semicircle to represent a smiling (and frowning) face is in a newspaper advertisement in the New York Herald Tribune, March 10, 1953, on page 20, columns 4–6. Promoting the film Lili, starring Leslie Caron, the ad read as follows:

Today

You’ll laugh ☺

You’ll cry ☹

You’ll love ♥ Lili

The film opened nationwide, so the ad may have run in many newspapers.[1]

The smiley face, a yellow button with a smile and two dots representing eyes, was invented by Harvey Ball in 1963 for a Worcester, Massachusetts based insurance firm State Mutual Life Assurance. Though there was an attempt to trademark the image, it fell into the public domain before that could be accomplished.[2]

However, Franklin Loufrani of London based company SmileyWorld says he came up with the image in 1968 and is trademarked across 80 countries. As with David Stern of David Stern Inc., a Seattle-based advertising agency also claims to have invented the smiley. Stern reportedly developed his version in 1967 as part of an ad campaign for Washington Mutual, but says he did not think to trademark it.

And now the fight on smileys for you!

Wal-Mart is locked in a trademark fight over the smiley face — the yellow, 1970s-era symbol of happiness. The giant retailer uses the design to tout its price reductions and doesn’t plan to give in. "We feel an obligation to defend the smiley face," said Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley. SmileyWorld — a company owned by the French Loufrani family — says it has rights to the design because Franklin Loufrani registered it with French trademark authorities in 1971. "A pre-historic man probably invented the smiley face in some cave," said Loufrani, 63, "but I certainly was the first to register it as a trademark."

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