Samsung, RIM both sued for violating patent on emoticons

Samsung, RIM both sued for violating patent on emoticons
Once again, Samsung is being accused of infringing on a patent. The difference is that it is not Apple at the opposite table in the courtroom, but a company called Varia Holdings. And instead of a patent case involving important technology that goes right to the heart of Android, Varia is alleging that Samsung and fellow handset manufacturer RIM violated a patent involving emoticons.

An illustration from the patent

An illustration from the patent

According to Varia's filing, both Samsung and RIM infringed on the "concept of allowing users to choose emoticons from a menu of options rather than typing them out one character at a time." It seems like such an obvious idea in retrospect. Varia claims that the phones infringing on its patent include the Samsung Acclaim, Google Nexus S, Samsung Captivate, Samsung Epic 4G, Samsung GALAXY Nexus and the Samsung Transform. Those smartphones allow users to select emoticons from a pop-up menu, violating the patent according to Varia. BlackBerry models that Varia claims are infringing on its patent are the BlackBerry Bold, BlackBerry  Curve, BlackBerry Pearl, and the BlackBerry Storm.

The patent was filed in late 2005 and was granted to Seattle start-up firm Wildseed in early 2007 The latter was acquired by AOL and spun off as Varia Mobile which took the emoticon patent with it.  Interestingly, while Varia Mobile seems to own the patent, it is Varia Holdings that is the plaintiff in the case. Obviously, both firms are connected.  By the way, the actual title of the patent is "Emoticon input method and apparatus" and is number 7,167,731.

How the court will rule is hard to predict. On its face, the idea of protecting the concept of choosing emoticons from a menu instead of typing them out character by character seems a little absurd. On the other hand, Samsung and RIM still have to take this seriously because huge sums of money could end up involved here, especially when you look at the number of different handsets cited in the filing. Emoticons have been the subject of patents before. Back in 2006, AT&T (then Cingular) filed an application for a patent that would cover 35 claims relating to emoticons. Among the claims was a method of selecting "smileys" using a dedicated key. The selected emoticon can be inserted into a text message, email or IM.

source: arstechnica

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13 Comments

1. B3BLW29

Posts: 238; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

Mobile world is becoming like Middle east, where patent wars start over any damn reason..

2. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

im surprised they keep it so scoped.. maybe to test the waters, cause wp uses this patent in the os

3. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

This is just the start. Before anyone at Varia starts thinking sales injunction, they have to withstand the inevitable challenges to the patent. And, worst case if Varia wins, Sammy (and RIM) just disable the infringing function. I doubt they (Sammy and RIM) will lose any sales over the user not being able to select an emoticon from a menu as opposed to having to type in the character combination. If ever there was a bullsh*t patent, this has to be high on the contender list for the award.

4. christianqwerty

Posts: 467; Member since: May 05, 2011

Poor rim,suing them is like kicking someone when they are down.

8. itzmando

Posts: 119; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Lucas777. I wonder if he will get annoyed if someone were to type the complete opposite from what he write just to see get pissed off. But that would just feed the troll.

21. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

what?

9. GeekMovement unregistered

Wow this is kind of stupid to be honest... hope Samsung and RIM can pull through.

15. drtech

Posts: 135; Member since: Mar 16, 2012

Samsung stealing IP is par for the course

16. Bluesky02

Posts: 1439; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

This is ridiculous!

17. sheepygalaxy

Posts: 68; Member since: Mar 10, 2012

another day another pointless patent war when will this madness end

18. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

This is another appalling patent,next we Will find out that some unknown company has a patient for the procedure: 'pressing menu,insert item then insert word'

19. GuiltyBystander

Posts: 199; Member since: Mar 05, 2012

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

20. paulislegend

Posts: 42; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

The patent office needs a douche.

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