Everyone knows trollface, a simple drawing that has been in the internet for years. But few know who is his creator and that the design is a registered trademark, protected by copyright laws. As many other memes, trollface was born in the 4chan forum, where Jorge Ramírez posted it for the first time in 2008. At that time Jorge was only 18 years old.
Ramírez is not a professional artist or designer, and when he talks about trollface he admits it is not a good drawing. He can’t explain why it is so popular. But nowadays Trollface universally represents the trolls and pranksters of the internet, those who have fun by bothering other users, and it became a symbol of the mocking and antisocial online behavior.
Ramírez estimates that the registration of Trollface as trademark has made him earn around 100,000 U.S. dollars through royalties and by sueing commercial projects that used the design illegally. For example, he sued Nintendo because of the video game Meme Run, which included Trollface and several other popular memes. Ramírez allows non-commercial usage of Trollface, so anyone can use it to create their own drawings and comics.
This case shows that even when the internet seems chaotic and virality seems uncontrollable, there are effective ways to protect a registered trademark online.