As a result of recent high profile litigations and libel rulings, the Emoticons™ have been forced to cease trading as of today. From this point on, all sentences will end with an abrupt exclamation mark (!) to ensure clarity of statement. Laughter will only be expressed verbally, as both LOL and ROFL have been forced into an early retirement.
Emoticons™ have long figured in literature as a handy pictorial representation of a facial expression, receiving a small fee every time they were used. City analysts have calculated that at their peak (during one particularly heated text-based conversation between two teenage girls from Brighton in 2009), Emoticons™ were trading at £ 75 per share on FTSE 100 index.
The Official Receiver issued this statement: "The Courts have ruled that a 'nod' really is as good as a 'wink". With sub-text, innuendo and irony now under the under the purview of the High Court, there may be further liquidations involving celebrity assets. These will include Roger Moore's eyebrows, the twinkle in Terry Wogan's eye and Frankie Howard's entire career."
There is a wider concern that litigations will extend to other forms of metacommunication. One semiotics expert explained: "It's unfortunate, but the fact remains that the public no longer judge you on what you say but the way you say it. We've had many Labour leaders who have said the right words; but would you trust Ed Milliband's insincere nasal twang? Gordon Brown's evil eye? Tony Blair's vampiric grin? Whereas, George Osborne may talk sh*te but his podgy expressionless face is positively cherubic . Boris Johnson is one long stream of unintelligible rubbish, but everyone loves a gonk."
The UK has some of the most repressive libel laws in the world and has long been a target for wealthy "libel tourists". An Emoticons™ spokesmen said: "(?_?) and (>//<)," followed by "(Ç_Ç)."