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New tech risk is nothing to 😊 about

Posted On: Jun. 18, 2019 2:52 PM CST


Contract disputes. Sexual harassment. Discrimination cases. Even murders.

Emojis can lead to lawsuits, wrote Jason Levine, a partner in the Washington office of Vinson & Elkins LLP, in a recent article posted to

“Emojis mean different things to different people and therefore have the potential to create huge misunderstandings,” Mr. Levine wrote in the June 13 post.

Citing data compiled by emoji law scholar Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, from 2004 to 2018 there were 171 U.S. court opinions that have made references to emojis and their brethren, emoticons, according to Mr. Levine.

Cases involving emojis have spiked in recent years, with 33 emoji-related court decisions in 2017 and 53 in 2018,” he wrote, adding that “the types of emojis most often cited in legal disputes are smiley faces, winky faces, sad faces, and guns.”