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)
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.
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."
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.
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
Want to learn more about these trademarks?
- Erik Pelton helped us spot the Kiss trademarks as well as some other nontraditional trademarks.
- Read about the downfall of the milk mustache.
- Duetsblog has a :-) list of trademarked emoticons.
- Patrick Klepek at Kotaku profiled Ramirez, the man who claims to have created Trollface (and who's profited off it).
- The Smiley Company published its history. Jimmy Stamp wrote about the design's complicated journey for Smithsonian.