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Iconic smiley face

A smiley, or happy face (☺/☻), is a stylized representation of a smiling human face, commonly represented as a yellow(many other colors are also used) circle (or sphere) with two dots representing eyes and a half circle representing the mouth. “Smiley” is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon.

The variant spelling "smilie" is not as common, but the plural form "smilies" (the plural of "smily", not "smiley") is commonly used.


[edit] Origin

The very earliest known examples of the graphic are attributed to Harvey Ball, a commercial artist in Worcester, Massachusetts. He decided to design the face in 1963 for the State Mutual Life Assurance Company, which wanted an internal campaign to improve employee morale.[1][2] Ball never attempted to use, promote or trademark the image; it fell into the public domain in the United States before that could be accomplished.[3] As a result, Ball never made any profit for the iconic image beyond his initial $45 fee. Also in 1963, a children's cartoon series titled The Funny Company began airing on television, which also featured a version of the smiley on the caps worn by the animated children.

David Stern of David Stern Inc., a Seattle-based advertising agency also claimed to have created the smiley. Stern reportedly developed his version in 1967 as part of an ad campaign for Washington Mutual, but says he did not think to trademark it.[4]

[edit] Popularization

The graphic was popularized in the early 1970s by Bernard and Murray Spain, who seized upon it in a campaign to sell novelty items. The two produced buttons as well as coffee mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers and many other items emblazoned with the symbol and the phrase "Have a happy day" (devised by Gyula Bogar).

The graphic novel, Watchmen, by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins, features a blood-splattered smiley face prominently in the story. A pin with the emblem on it lying in a gutter appears on the first page of the book.

In the UK, the smiley is associated with, among other things, the acid house dance music culture that emerged during the second summer of love in the late 1980s. The face was used as an engraved logo on ecstasy tablets at the time. The association was cemented when the band Bomb The Bass used an extracted smiley from Watchmen on the centre of its Beat Dis hit single.

In 1963, the movie Bye Bye Birdie had a musical scene where Dick Van Dyke sings the song "Put on a Happy Face" where he draws many "Happy Faces" in the air, which magically can be seen on umost commonly see them in texts.

[edit] Licensing and legal issues

Smiley has been a registered trademark in some countries since 1971 when French journalist Franklin Loufrani created "Smiley World" to sell and license the smiley face image in the United Kingdom and Europe. The Smiley name and logo is registered and used in over 100 countries for 25 classes of goods and services. Loufrani claims to have created the icon in 1971 to highlight good news in newspaper articles, and does not acknowledge priority of other designers.[5]

In 1999, Ball formed World Smile Corporation and began licensing the smiley face to fund his charitable causes. Profits are distributed to charities through the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, which also sponsors the annual World Smile Day Ball started in 1999 to encourage "acts of kindness."[6]

In 2006 Wal-Mart, which prominently featured a smiley in its "Rolling Back Prices" campaign, sought to trademark the smiley face in the United States, coming into legal conflict with Loufrani and Smiley World over the matter.[7][8] In 2006 Wal-mart began to phase out the smiley face on its vests[9] and its website. [10] During a trademark infringement case against an online parodist, Wal-Mart again tried to claim it held the trademark rights to the yellow smiley face. In March 2008, Wal-Mart lost the case and the judge stated in his decision that Wal-Mart did not own rights to the smiley face.[11]

In 2008, the Russian entrepeneur Oleg Teterin, president of the mobile phone company Superfone, claimed a trademark for the emoticon smiley that included ownership of ;-) and closely related smileys. He says he does not intend to go after individual users, but rather intends for companies who plan to use the emoticons to pay him royalties.[12]

[edit] Typographical smileys

The satrirical U.S. magazine Puck presented these typographical emoticons on March 30, 1881.

Many typographical representations of smiley faces have been developed over the years. Some feature non-smiling expressions or other elaborations. They come in two main varieties, those meant to be viewed sideways, and those meant to be seen upright.

Icon Meaning
:-) classic smile with nose
:-( classic frown with nose (Unicode: ☹)
:) classic smile without nose
:( classic frown without nose

The two original text smileys, :-) to indicate a joke and :-( to mark things that are not a joke were invented on September 19, 1982 by Scott E. Fahlman, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Computer Science. His original post at the CMU CS general board, where he suggested the use of the smileys, was retrieved on September 10, 2002 by Jeff Baird from an October 1982 backup tape of the spice vax (cmu-750x) as proof to support the claim.[13]

More recently, small, in-line graphical images of smileys and other faces have become popular, especially on forums:

Smiley Expression
Image:smile-tpvgames.gif Simple Smile is usually written like this, :)
Image:confused-tpvgames.gif Confused Smiley is usually written like this, :S
Image:sad-tpvgames.gif Simple Frown is usually written like this, :(
Image:shocked-tpvgames.gif Shocked Smiley is usually written like this, :O
Image:misc-tpvgames.gif Smiley with Tongue sticking out is usually written like this, :P
Image:MilesSmile.png Smiley with big grin, also known as a "Miles Smile," is usually written like this, :D

The reverse, or left-handed, smileys (-: have also gained popularity for being a way to avoid having text smileys converted to graphical representations in certain settings such as instant messaging programs.

[edit] Fictional use

In the movie Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks' character of the same name is splattered with mud by a passing truck when running across America. A tee-shirt designer, who is struggling to think of a new design, hands him a tee-shirt to wipe off the mud. The imprint left in the mud stain is a smiley face; As Forrest left again, he tells the man "Have a nice day" the designer realizes this is the design he has been looking for.

Many smileys appear in the film Repo Man, as well as posters for "Harry Pace for City Council" ("Happy Face").

A bloodstained Smiley badge is featured as the most prominent motif and recurring piece of imagery in Alan Moore's 1986 comic series Watchmen, as well as its 2009 film adaptation. The badge belongs to a murdered "Adventurer" (Hero) known as The Comedian and prominently features a line of red blood crossing over the Smiley's left eye mimicking the position a clock face set at five minutes to midnight (another motif of the Comics) bears. In later reissues and reprints of the comic series, the Bloodstained Smiley Badge, particularly the left eye, became a symbol for the series as a whole and serves as the cover art to the paperback graphic novel.

[edit] See also

[edit] External Links

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Smiley Face: How an in-house campaign became a global icon", Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 2006
  2. ^ "Smiley Face"
  3. ^ Who invented the smiley face? (from The Straight Dope).
  4. ^ Hunt, Judi. (November 15, 1988). Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Article entitled "Ad Man Sad-Faced Over Misuse of Symbol".
  5. ^ Smiley Story. Smiley World website.
  6. ^ World Smile website
  7. ^ "Wal-Mart seeks smiley face rights". BBC News. 8 May 2006. Retrieved on 2006-05-09. 
  8. ^ Loufrani v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Opposition No. 91152145] (Filed July 23, 2002)
  9. ^ Kabel, Mark (October 22 2006). "Wal-Mart phasing out smiley face vests". Associated Press. 
  10. ^ Williamson, Richard (October 30 2006). "The last days of Wal-Mart’s smiley face". Adweek. 
  11. ^ "Wal-Mart loses trademark on smiley face". Boing Boing. 28 March 2008. 
  12. ^ "Oleg Teterin, Russian Entrepeneur, Trademarks an Emoticon". Huffington Post. 11 December 2008. 
  13. ^ Mike Jones (September 12, 2002), The First Smiley :-),, retrieved May 31, 2007
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