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5 faces you never realized were trademarked

Phil Edwards is a senior producer for the Vox video team.

Of course you can trademark a great logo. But what about a face? These designs are legally protected — so make sure to double check before you use that trollface.

Facial recognition (from a legal perspective)

Kiss's faces
The band applied for the trademark in 1978, and it isn’t limited to drawings, photographs, or toys — the application also includes Kiss’s performances and makeup design.
Milk mustache
This drawing of the milk mustache is from an actual 2010 trademark application by the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, which states it is "suggestive of white or flavored milk."
The smiley :-) is both a clothing and jewelry trademark. It joins other protected emoticons like the wink ;) and :o). As with many trademarks, most emoticons are limited to specific uses or product types.
This popular meme image was copyrighted (not trademarked) by Carlos Ramirez in 2010. He claims to have made more than $100,000 in licensing fees from the instantly recognizable drawing.
Smiley face
The classic smiley face goes back at least to the '50s, but Franklin Loufrani’s Smiley Company first trademarked the name in 1988. The company brings in an estimated $130 million in revenue every year.
SOURCES: Frazer Harrison/USPTO/Getty Images

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