People in China discovered that one of the country’s favorite WeChat emojis just got registered as a trademark… but it wasn’t by WeChat’s maker, Tencent.
The trademark for the facepalm emoji is now held by a person in a Zhejiang county, who filed it for use on clothing, a Chongqing newspaper reported. That story is one of the most popular on Weibo today.
Users are blasting the person who registered the emoji: “This is a typical trademark squatter,” one of the most like user comments said. “They have no respect for originality.”
While defending Tencent, a lot of people also find the situation quite ironic because Tencent itself is not known for its originality: Lots of Tencent games are, uh, “inspired” by others.
Even though this isn’t quite the same thing, and two wrongs don’t make a right, people are taking this chance to make fun of the company. Some are saying that now Tencent knows what it’s like to have their copyright violated.
Unlike in the US, where someone filing for a trademark has to prove how the trademark is being used or will be used in business, China has a “first to file” system, meaning that whoever registers first gets the trademark -- unless anyone objects.
That has caused headaches for international companies doing business in China, including Apple, who paid US$60 million to buy the iPad trademark from a Chinese company in 2012.
Incidentally, that facepalm emoji isn’t the only trademark related to Tencent filed by that person. In searching through his other trademarks, we found a certain graphic that looks rather familiar to Tencent’s WeChat icon: