Wal-Mart fights to keep the smiley facehttp://money.cnn.com/2006/07/05/news/companies/walmart.smileyworld/The Straight Dope: Who invented the Smiley Face?http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_031.htmlWorcester Historical Museum: Smiley Facehttp://www.worcesterhistory.org/ex_smiley.htmlAdflip.comhttp://www.adflip.com/United States Patent and Trademark Office Home Page [pdf]http://www.uspto.gov/Sitting down at his desk at the State Mutual Life Assurance Company of America in 1963, Harvey Ball created a button that was designed to ease the feelings of employees who were part of a merger with a company based in Ohio. As he worked, he created what came to be known as the “smiley face”, which depicted a smile (and two small dots for eyes) that was rather large and perpetually, well, smiling. Over the years, many people have grown to love (and hate) this symbol, but as of late, it’s been nothing but trouble for two companies who are both claiming commercial rights to this design. The legal fracas pits the London-based company SmileyWorld versus a certain large retail outfit based in Bentonville, Arkansas that is known for its persistence in such matters. The legal issue was first raised in 1997 when SmileyWorld filed for a U.S. trademark for the exclusive right to commercial use and licensing of the term “smiley” in conjunction with the well-known face logo. This week, a spokesman for Wal-Mart remarked that SmileyWorld appeared to be attempting to “trademark everything they possibly can.” Countering SmileyWorld’s claim, Wal-Mart is arguing that it has utilized this friendly symbol since at least 1996 in their stores and some of their print advertisements. In a rather pointed rebuttal to Wal-Mart’s efforts to maintain their hold on the US copyright to the smiley face, the head of SmileyWorld (Nicolas Loufrani), stated that if his company won their suit, they would not license use of the face to Wal-Mart. His final comment was “We want to aim our brand more upmarket.” The first link will take users to a piece on the lawsuit from Wednesday’s New York Times. The second link leads to a similar piece that appeared in the online version of Money.com on the same day. The third link will whisk interested parties to the sage wisdom of Cecil Adams, author of the most-celebrated “The Straight Dope” column. In this gem of a column, he provides a thorough answer to the question: “Who invented the smiley face?” The fourth link leads to a page created by the Worcester Historical Museum that provides a biographical profile of Harvey Ball and his creation. The fifth link will take users to Adflip.com. Here they can look at classic print advertisements from the 1940s to the present day, including those for early refrigerators and fountain pens of some repute. The sixth and final link leads to the very official homepage of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, where users can learn about applying for a trademark, or a patent. Also, users can learn more about the world of trademark and patent law.


  • Arts > General
  • Arts > Popular Culture
  • Social Studies > General
  • Education > General

Education Levels:


    Vocational Education -- Agriculture,Arts,NSDL_SetSpec_internetscout,Arts -- Popular culture,Ecology, Forestry and Agriculture,Social studies -- Current events/issues,Social studies,Vocational Education -- Business,Education,Social Sciences,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20120928115114350T,NSDL



    Access Privileges:

    Public - Available to anyone

    License Deed:

    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike


    This resource has not yet been aligned.
    Curriki Rating
    'NR' - This resource has not been rated
    'NR' - This resource has not been rated

    This resource has not yet been reviewed.

    Not Rated Yet.

    Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467