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Franklin Loufrani (born October 25, 1942 in Alger, Algeria) is the French President of the Smiley Company, which owns the trademark and copyright of the Smiley face and name in France and some other countries.
Franklin Loufrani has spent over five decades working in journalism and also in senior positions within the licensing industry.
Starting out in 1960 as editor of France Soir and as a copywriter for the advertising agency Masius-Landa. In 1969 he founded the licensing department of publisher Hachette in France to license the rights to Babar the Elephant and other characters from their books.
In 1972, Loufrani became the first person to trademark and promote the Smiley face. He used it to highlight the good news stories in newspaper France Soir. He simply called the design "Smiley" and started licensing the rights through his company, Knowledge Management International (KIM).
He then went on to become chairman and managing director of Junior Productions in 1973, who were the licensing agent for Marvel Comics, Hanna Barbera, Larry Harmon and other major US global licensing properties, as well as emerging Japanese properties such as Goldorak (Yūfō Robo Gurendaizā in Japan), Prince Saphir (Ribon no Kishi in Japan) and many others.
In 1977, he launched Télé-Junior S.A, where he held the position of chairman and publishing director of Télé-Junior. in 1978 he also became publishing director of Télé-Parade. Loufrani takes credit at this time for the step of publishing and distributing magazines, records, tapes and videotapes to increase awareness of his licensing properties, becoming the first licensing agent to support his licensed properties (Marvel, Hanna Barbera, Larry Harmon) through media campaigns and publishing.
In 1980, Loufrani was appointed General Secretary of S.P.P.S (Syndicat des Publication Périodiques Spécialisées) and in August that year he created SARL Junior d’aujourd’hui as a division of Femmes d’Aujourd’hui.
As Loufrani’s stature in the publishing industry grew, in 1981 he became a member of the administration consult of F.N.P.H.P (Fédération Nationale de la Presse Hebdomadaire et Périodique), and then became a member of the commission of advertising of F.N.P.H.P in 1984.
In October 1981, he bought the shares of SARL Junior d’aujourd’hui from Femmes d’aujourd’hui and also bought the ownership and right to exploit “Télé-Junior” in his company SARL Junior Productions.
Throughout this time he continued to promote Smiley as a global licensing property, and in London in 1996, Nicolas Loufrani joined his father to start the Smiley licensing company, taking the pre-existing trademark rights Franklin Loufrani had maintained in the Smiley logo since 1971.
The Smiley brand
Loufrani was challenged by Pierre Lazareff, the editor of leading French newspaper France-Soir, to create a campaign to spread a little happiness in a time when bad news seemed to prevail. He came up with the idea of a simple logo to use as a way to highlight good news. The logo was officially trademarked with the French INPI National Institute of Industrial Property on October 1, 1971 for classes of goods and services 1, 2, 4, 9, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 41.
On Saturday 1 January 1972, when French newspaper France Soir printed Loufrani’s happiness promotion "Take time to smile". It is the first known published and dated claim of ownership of a copyright to the Smiley logo. Before long the promotion gained traction, different licensing opportunities opened up for Smiley across a variety of industries. The property grew as a major merchandising phenomenon.
In 2005, the Loufrani's established a charity, The SmileyWorld Association (SWA). They took the decision to turn over some company profits to sponsor social projects across the world.
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