Here's another fun, new, sweeping mobile patent application from today's
Cingular Seeks Patent on Icons in Text Messages
By MARIA ASPAN
To their many users, emoticons -- those combinations of typed symbols
used to depict a smiley or sad face in e-mail or text messages -- are
worth a brief laugh. Now Cingular Wireless hopes they might be worth a
According to recently released documents, Cingular applied provisionally
for patents of shortcut steps used to transmit emoticons in 2004. Six
months later, in March 2005, the company filed a claim to patent "a
method and system for generating a displayable icon or emoticon form."
Cingular is the second major company to apply for patents for technology
relating to emoticons, which are so common as punctuation marks in
electronic communication that trying to patent them almost seems like
trying to copyright a speech tic.
In January 2004, the Microsoft Corporation
filed an application to patent "methods and devices for creating and
transferring custom emoticons," or the special symbols created by
individuals to electronically express their feelings. The United States
Patent and Trademark Office published Microsoft's application last
summer and Cingular's application on Jan. 19.
According to its application, Cingular wants credit for inventing a
one-step way to insert symbols into messages by using a single,
designated key. The claim cites the "cumbersome and time-consuming
process" of typing the combinations of punctuation marks that create
smiley faces and frowns. These combinations are especially difficult to
type on cellular phones, but the patent application also claims that the
shortcut keystrokes can be used on other devices, including computers.
By the time Cingular's application is processed, Microsoft may already
hold a patent on emoticon shortcuts, or at least for designer smiley
faces. In its patent application, which refers mostly to instant
messaging, Microsoft claims to have invented a method for using
keystrokes to stand in for custom emoticons.
David Kaefer, the director of business development for Microsoft's
intellectual property and licensing division, said in an e-mail message
that he was not familiar with Cingular's patent application, but that
"it is not unusual to have multiple patents for different methods of
solving a similar challenge."
Representatives for Cingular declined to comment on the two applications.
According to Brigid Quinn, a spokeswoman for the United States Patent
and Trademark Office, patent applications take more than two years, on
average, to be processed. Therefore, Microsoft and Cingular will have to
wait at least several months before collecting any licensing fees.
S. Woodside wrote:
>On Feb 3, 2006, at 6:57 PM, Curt Sampson wrote:
>>However, ColorCode looks like it might well infringe the patent, since
>>it does use this lookup system. On the other hand, ColorCode has
>>certainly been around for far longer than eighteen months, which is
>>long ago this patent was filed.
>The US Patent Office is insanely promiscuous ... they'll give a
>patent to anyone.
>But, ColorCode doesn't need to precede the patent directly. "Prior
>art" from any source, ColorCode or otherwise, will invalidate the
>patent. In theory anyway. In practice getting the USPTO to invalidate
>a patent is ridiculously hard & expensive because once they issue the
>patent, the courts "assume" that its valid. (cf, the RIM BlackBerry
>The US patent system is basically broken.
>PS I blogged about patents : http://semacode.org/weblog/2005/07/06
>Simon Woodside - Founder
>This mail was sent to address dan_at_socialight.net
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Received on Mon Feb 6 21:16:55 2006