About Us | Contact Us | E-Paper

Emoji and Intellectual Property Rights - I

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

Post by on Saturday, June 19, 2021

First slide
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. 

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 as well.

 

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. 

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 "branded emojis."

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 ‘:-(' 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 continued…)

 

(Authors are B.A.L.L.B Students at Lloyd Law College. Feedback: shubham_sharma@lloydlawcollege.edu.in)

 


Latest Post