Following the success of “Angry Birds,” the movie adaptation of the popular mobile game that knocked “Captain America: Civil War” off its box-office perch with a $39 million opening, Sony is confident that its emoji movie will have the same kind of success.
But the studio is in a battle over merchandise trademark rights, which could seriously affect the ancillary markets of the project, and even what Sony is legally allowed to title the movie.
Marco Husges, a former video game executive from Germany, has created more than 3,000 of his own emoji icons and trademarked and licensed them for use in an array of merchandise through his company The Emoji Co., according to The Hollywood Reporter.
And Husges believes Sony’s yet-to-be-titled emoji movie may be in violation of his trademarks.
“I am curious how Sony would want to produce a movie under that name and do accompanying merchandising, especially given the fact our brand has already been successfully established with license partners and retailers all over the world,” Husges told THR. (Husges does not own the rights to the emoji icons that populate phones and social media.)
In October 2015, Sony filed an application for dozens of trademarks in connection with the film, and they were rejected in February, according to THR.
Regardless, Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson said in April at CinemaCon that the studio has hired a licensing company for the emoji project.
Husges told THR that he has begun developing his own emoji projects for TV, movies, and the web. He’s even teamed with one of the producers of “The Lego Movie,” Roy Lee, to get some of them off the ground.
A Sony spokeswoman told THR: “We have full confidence in our rights as we make the film we’ve always intended to make.”
Sony’s emoji movie is slated to be released in 2017.