SHUBHAM SHARMA & TANYA SINGH
The term "emoji" initially referred to a pictogram,
which was a symbol used to express meaning through physical objects, such as
those found in computer icons. Emoticons were used before Emoji to describe
feelings using a combination of punctuation marks.
Isn't it true that emojis are adorable? Emoji are like
greenery; their use brings joy to life by efficiently communicating an
individual's feelings. The world has turned increasingly toward digital
communication, and the Emoji has become synonymous with both words and
expression. It breathes new life into a stale phrase and gives a sentence
proper meaning. A significant amount of meaning is given by gestures, facial
expressions, and voice tone, which is lost in written language, especially when
it becomes colloquial. The little symbols are used to communicate emotions and
facilitate interaction on social media and on smart devices. Emojis are graphic
expressions of emotion. We admire how a simple emoji can represent what we
couldn't say with words.
Today, in the digital modern world, practically every social
media site offers a variety of emoticons, making messaging simple and
entertaining. There is hardly anyone who does not use Emoji in their chats, and
it is becoming an increasingly common way for people to communicate their
emotions. Emojis not only make texts more vibrant, but they also aid in the
development of interpersonal relationships by allowing the receiver to
experience what the sender is experiencing.Â
Emojis originated in Japan in 1999, when Shigetaka Kurita, a
member of DoCoMo's IMODE team, created them for mobile phones. Initially, she
was inspired by the hearts and symbols found on Japanese pagers and weather
forecasts, and she began designing emojis. Emoji is a Japanese word that
combines the words "image" and "character." The initial
emoji was a 12 by 12 pixel image that was heavily influenced by Japanese manga
art and kanji characters. The World Emoji Day is observed on July 17th.
The word Emoji came from the word pictogram, which was a sign
used to express meaning with physical objects, such as those found in computer
icons. Emoticons were used before Emoji to describe feelings using a
combination of punctuation marks. The case of Ukwuachu v. The State of Texas
(2018 WL 2711167) clarifies the distinction between emojis and emoticons:
emoticons are a collection of typed keyboard symbols that depict a stylized
face that conveys the writer's tone. Emojis are frequently used to indicate the
tone of a writer. Emojis are frequently used to indicate the tone of a writer.
So, an emoticon is a smiley face that incorporates a character that may be
found on your computer keyboard. It's an emoji if it's a small cartoon
character that's free of punctuation, numerals, and letters.
Many people feel that emojis are the next way to replace
speech, which Vyvyan Evans dismisses in his book The Emoji Code, explaining
that because emojis communicate nonverbally with facial emotions and body
language; they ultimately fill an inexplicable hole in our written communication
Unicode and Proprietary Emojis are the
different forms of emojis
Unicode Emoji: The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit
organisation that creates standards for keyboard letters and, more recently,
emojis. Only roughly 2,000 emojis have been assigned a single number, a
black-and-white shape outline, and a brief description by Unicode. Emojis may
be recognised across platforms thanks to Unicode standards. A sender can send
an emoji symbol that recipients on other platforms can recognise if both the
sender's and recipient's platforms support Unicode-defined emoji.Â
Platform Emojis and Proprietary Emojis: Platforms also
implement proprietary emojis that are only used on their platforms. These are
referred to as "proprietary emojis" (sometimes known as
"stickers"). Even if proprietary emojis have similar designs to
Unicode-defined emojis, the Unicode-defined numerical value for those emojis
will not be shared. As a result, when a proprietary emoji is sent outside of
the platform, it usually appears as a logo in the shape of a blank square,
signalling that the destination platform does not recognise the character.
Some systems, on the other hand, create proprietary or
branded emojis that are radically distinct and unrelated to Unicode-based
emojis. In such situations, applicants are more likely to receive copyright
protection for their emojis. Emojis covered by third-party property, such as
trademarked logos or copyrighted designs, are not adopted by Unicode. Platforms
or individuals, on the other hand, can create their own emojis. Twitter
hashtag-triggered emojis (such as NFL emoji hashtags on game day) and celebrity
emoji sets like Kim Kardashian's "Kimoji" are examples of
The previous section discussed what emojis are and how they
evolved, as well as the differences between emoji and emoticons. As a result,
while this section discusses the multiple benefits of emoticons, it also
discusses how emojis frequently face legal concerns. Business ventures have
their own collection of Emoji that are protected by intellectual property laws.
When it comes to the preservation of widely used emojis, intellectual property
rights are in the spotlight.
Intellectual property rights are often awarded only when a
specific intangible asset can be traced back to a single creator or
identifiable group of creators, with the creator(s) presumptively entitled to
the right; and they are enforced by both civil and criminal law.
Emojis are trademarked and protected
To be recognised under the TM Law, a mark must be
distinctive, non-descriptive, and not identical or similar to any other
trademark already in use.
Despair Inc. was the first to trademark and protect the
emoticon â€˜:-(' or in the United States. The Smiley
Co., on the other hand, controls the trademark and copyright to the iconic
smiley in over 100 countries.
It's possible that various people own trademark rights to the
same emoji for different types of items. However, because they cannot establish
"use in commerce," communication-based platforms are the least likely
to gain trademark rights in an emoji. Emojis are unlikely to get trademark
protection because they are descriptive and substantially similar to other
emojis. Whereas marketing organisations aiming to utilise emojis for product branding
are likely to meet the "use in commerce" criteria, trademark
protection can be obtained. At the same time, when consumers understand emojis
as their generic meaning, they can be easily recognised and fall into the
generic group. Only when emojis distinguish goods or services in the
marketplace can they become trademarkable.
As a result, numerous parties may have trademark rights in
the same emoji design, much as there are several overlapping trademark owners
for generic phrases such as "apple,""national,""sun,"
and "united." However, because trademark protection for emojis is
limited, there may be an increase in trademark conflicts over identical or
confusingly similar emojis.
(To be continuedâ€¦)
(Authors are B.A.L.L.B Students at Lloyd Law College. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org)