drewmoney writes "According to a BBC article, Entrepreneur Oleg Teterin said the trademark for the ';-)' emoticon was granted to him by Russia's federal patent agency. 'Legal use will be possible after buying an annual licence from us,' he was quoted by the newspaper Kommersant as saying. 'It won't cost that much — tens of thousands of dollars,' added the businessman, who is president of Superfone, a company that sells advertising on mobile phones. The president of Russian social networking site odnoklassniki.ru, Nikita Sherman said: 'You're not likely to find any retards in Russia who'll pay Superfone for the use of emoticons.'"
Teterin may have gotten the idea by catching up on some old news about Despair, Inc., which in May 2000 was awarded a US trademark on the "frowny" emoticon