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Winker in chief?

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A Russian businessman has trademarked the combination of semicolon, dash and bracket that make up a winking face 'emoticon' in texts and emails.

Oleg Teterin, President of mobile advertising company Superfone, doesn’t intend to stop the average Joe from using the linguistic emotion without his permission.

But he will send legal warning to businesses that use it without his say-so.

Teterin wants firms to buy annual licences from him that will let them legally use the winking symbol in texts and emails. "It won't cost that much - tens of thousands of dollars,” he told Russian news website Kommersant, according to an Associated Press report.

Just how does he hope to police such a bonkers trademark? Will he demand that police search every business email sent from now on - assuming they're not doing so already? Or perhaps he’ll try and force mobile phone makers to install wink-watching surveillance software onto handsets?

Teterin also believes that because other emoticons, such as :-) and :), look very similar to his, so he’ll have jurisdiction over their use too.

It’s worth noting that Teterin isn’t the first person to try and trademark emoticons. Back in 2005, another Russian tried and failed to sue Siemens for use of the same winking emoticon, which he claimed to hold the trademark for.

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