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Smiley Face Creator Fights Back

January 21, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ Smile and the world smiles with you.

So hopes Harvey Ball, a graphic artist who earned $45 for designing the ubiquitous smiley face for an insurance company 35 years ago and now hopes to gather profits from the round yellow icon for charity.

Ball has declared Oct. 1 as ``World Smile Day,″ and he formed the World Smile Corp. to market a line of greeting cards, buttons and other items in conjunction with the festivities. Profits will go to charity.

Although Ball created the design, others have staked their claim. Last spring, Ball learned Franklin Loufrani, a 55-year-old French entrepreneur, had registered the smiley trademark in more than 75 countries _ and was threatening to sue U.S. companies that sell smiley products overseas.

The 77-year-old Ball thought about a lawsuit but decided he just couldn’t sue over a smile. ``It’s repugnant. Yucky,″ he said Wednesday.

Better, he said, to outsell the Loufranis of the world in the marketplace.

Nicholas Loufrani, Franklin Loufrani’s son and vice president of marketing for London-based Smiley Licensing Corp., said he wishes Ball the best.

``He has the right to use the smiley character in the U.S.,″ he said. ``If he’s able to sell smiley products and give the money to charity, that’s great.″

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