WAL-MART Seeks To Patent Smiley Face

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Obviously when you smile, you think of Wal-Mart...

Wal-Mart is embroiled in a legal dispute over the smiley face image which it wants to trademark in the US. A Frenchman who claims to have invented the yellow smiley face back in 1968 is opposing the US retail giant's move. For some, the image is a reminder of 1970s counter-culture, for others, a useful shorthand when sending e-mails.

But since 1996, Wal-Mart has used the image in the US on uniforms and promotional signs, and it wants sole rights to it in the US retail sector.

Franklin Loufrani - just one of a number of people who profess to have invented the image - has marketed the sign since the early 1970s.

It's a mark that we have a tremendous investment in and is very closely identified with our company
Wal-Mart

He and his London-based company SmileyWorld today own the rights to the logo in more than 80 countries around the world.

The US is not included in this list, and SmileyWorld and Wal-Mart are now at loggerheads before the US Patent and Trademark Office.

A final decision is expected in August.

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