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The Wild World of Emoji

We’re issuing a correction for a description we printed in the January 2017 issue, regarding the emoji® brand from the Emoji Co. The amended brand description is below—as well as an overview of all the emoji-related properties we could find. Did we miss anything? Let us know! The links below provide full contact information in Licensing Sourcebook Online (LSBO).

Note that the emoji described below aren’t the icons you see on your phone—Apple and Google don’t usually make their icons available for merchandising. Typically, licensors and manufacturers design their own custom icons. One example is PepsiCo’s 2016 PepsiMoji campaign, curated by the The Joester Loria Group where limited-edition merchandise launched concurrently with the advertising campaign.

We also list several licensees in LSBO that make custom emoji for brands (listed alphabetically below). Usually the icons are available through custom messaging apps or keyboards that require both parties to have the program installed, since they aren’t part of the official Unicode Consortium.

First, let’s explore Emoji Co. GmbH, which describes its property as the “official emoji® brand.” The licensor has registered “emoji” as an official trademark around the world, including the U.S. and EU (in a bunch of categories). The company offers over 5,000 copyrighted icons for use in merchandising, and has more than 280 licensees worldwide. The company purchased “emojiville” from Saban Brands earlier this year. It also has several other trademarks like “the emojis” and “emojiplanet.”

Sony Pictures Animation has permission from the Emoji Co. to use “emoji” in connection with its worldwide merchandising program in conjunction with film The Emoji Movie. Sony offers distinct sets of emoticons and characters from the original film.

Accessory Innovations owns the trademark for “Emojination,” an AI-created brand that aims to capitalize on the licensed accessories manufacturer’s icons and phraseology. Current partners include Mad Engine, Komar Sleepwear, and Zak Designs.

EmojiOne offers open-source emoji for developers (the licenses for merchandising are, of course, not free). Licensees include Bioworld and Walls360.

The spiritual predecessor of the emoji, the Smiley®, is owned by SmileyWorld and trademarked in over 100 countries. The company offers different sets (Couture, Sports, Baby, etc.) of emoticons (3,000+) and graphics available for licensing. The company claims over 230 licensees worldwide.

And we’re not even touching digital stickers (still or animated graphics designed to be shared via virtual photos or text messages), which are in a unique class of their own.

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