Last month, the facepalm emoji trademark was approved to someone named Jin Zhaoping, who has nothing to do with Tencent.
People in China recently discovered that one of WeChat’s most popular emojis had just been registered as an official trademark… but it wasn’t by WeChat’s parent company Tencent.
The trademark for the facepalm emoji is now held by a man named Jin Zhaoping from the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province who filed intentionally filed it for use on clothing, according to a report by a Chongqing newspaper.
The story broke it and instantly plastered everyone’s WeChat Moments and Weibo feeds.
On September 13, Tencent responded to this situation by pointing out that Jin Zhaoping was employed as one of four designers by the company and that it’d taken approximately five months to approve the final design of this emoji, the origins of which appear to come from a love of Stephen Chow's funny facepalm expression.
"If Tencent can prove that this facepalm emoji belongs to the work of its employees, it can object to this trademark filing and retain the copyrights for it,” a lawyer familiar with this matter explained.
According to Tencent's team, the facepalm emoji underwent five changes before its final approval.
Other five emojis that the design team put together along with the facepalm emoji.
Tencent said that they will file an application to object the trademark during the three-month notice period they have for preliminary review.
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, which means that whoever registers first gets the trademark - unless anyone objects.
That has caused many 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.
Businesses should really pay more attention to their products and trademarks when they’re operating in China… haha