The following is an edited transcript of my video “Can an Emoji Also Be a Trademark?”
Here at EMP&A, we recently had a lot of fun developing and launching our own emoji icon. Be sure to check out the video at erikpelton.tv to see the emoji: a smiley face with glasses featuring two ® symbols instead of eyes. We thought this was a playful, creative icon to use in videos, on social media, and elsewhere: such in the footer of our website, in some of our posts on Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere. It’s a fun way to give our stamp of approval to things that we see out there, or to content that we’re creating.
People often ask me, “Can I register an emoji as a trademark?” The answer is, it’s a little bit tricky. Just using it as an emoji for messaging communications on a phone is going to be much more challenging. We’ve done a hybrid where the emoji also functions as a logo. The purpose of trademark law is to indicate the source of a product or service. Because we use it in a variety of different manners—and extensively—we believe that it is a trademark usage. We have, in fact, applied to register the emoji with the USPTO.