(2/19/2001) Here's another entry in the "No joke too obvious" category. A company has trademarked the frown-faced emoticon and plans on suing individuals who use it. Uh-huh, sure.
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Have you ever used the sad faced emoticon ? If so, you may be one of the seven million Internet users named in a trademark lawsuit by Despair Inc. who has a copyright on the emoticon. It won't cost you any money for violating the trademark but you would have to write '' is a registered trademark of Despair Inc'' 1,000 times and delete the symbol from any saved Emails.
You can license it from them for $5.00. Their web site is at:
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If the letter isn't obviously a joke, clicking on the web site above will be your first hint that this claim is a bunch of malarky. Despair, Inc. is an internet retailer of parody and satirical materials. Yes, they have trademarked ":-(" for use as a logo, and yes, they did put out a press release that told of their plan to sue internet users. They also have a press release that addresses "public outrage" at that decision and offers to sell a trademarked version of the emoticon. Most importantly, both releases contain the following disclaimer:
"Articles and items appearing in our "Recent Spin" are satirical and are not intended to be an accurate portrayal of the persons, companies or events depicted within them."
Dismiss this one as a joke and a publicity stunt, and don't be too tough on those who send it to you thinking it might be real. On the 'net, anything can happen - right? Break this Chain!