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Patent Troll Targets Samsung and RIM With Emoticon Button Patent 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-live-without-a-:)-button dept.
eldavojohn writes "Apparently the Samsung and Apple patent hoedown has received some uninvited guests that wish to troll with the big trolls — all over a built-in button for an emoticon. According to Varia Holdings (don't bother googling, you won't find anyone trying to license their patents to you) 'by asserting [its European] emoticon patent against Apple, Samsung has recognized the value of the type of invention embodied in [Varia's] '731 Patent.' And, thusly, Varia feels this provides grounds to sue Samsung and RIM. Techdirt provides commentary on the obviousness of said patent while raking the USPTO examiner over the coals (although, curiously, gives Samsung a free pass)."
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Patent Troll Targets Samsung and RIM With Emoticon Button Patent

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Aw yeah it feels good!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And I sue you over it! Your first post is just like my second post.

      • Since the patent system has been abused, let's encourage this abuse to the very extreme ---

        I hope that someone can patent the emoticon for someone suffering from constipation

        I hope that someone can patent the emoticon for bull defecating

        I also hope that someone can patent the emoticon for someone stuck a cellphone up their buttock

  • by megamaster_74 (1804340) on Monday March 19, 2012 @04:45PM (#39407157)
    If this mean less emoticons then I'm all for it.
    • by vlm (69642)

      I would like patent trolls if they did something positive for our culture. Patenting emoticons is a good start, but maybe they could have a paypal donation button or kickstarter goal to patent a button for "begs the question" and "couldn't care less" and "irregardless" and um, like, um, like using the like word like every like three seconds. I'd throw some bucks into a kickstarter for that.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        While they're at it, they can patent Duckfaces, Planking and Tebowing. I would donate to that.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Yvan256 (722131)

        Don't you mean "could care less"?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No, he did not. Let me spell it out for you: "I could not care less [than I do now [if I tried]]." Now please STFU. Thanks!

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            The GGP was referring to various illiteracies and illogicals one hears and even reads daily like "should of". In that respect the poster you responded to was correct. When you say "I could care less" you are saying that you care at least a little bit, but if you couldn't care less you don't care at all.

            Those things actually amuse me. What annoys me is when an illiteracy (or perhaps aliteracy) changes the meaning of a sentence, like saying "loose their cash" when "lose" is meant.

      • by bobbutts (927504)
        I have a patent on "loose" being the opposite of "win"
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      If this mean less emoticons then I'm all for it.

      Can I get an amen?

      Never mind. Slashdot doesn't support UTF-8. We'll have to settle for A-U+2642 [fileformat.info].

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      It just means you will now have to replace emoticons with little images of the same object to avoid getting sued, complicating the programming and text transfer.

      However, will Walmart now sue us for using a happy-face Jpeg? :-(

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Awwww, you guys are making me sad :(
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Monday March 19, 2012 @04:57PM (#39407243)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click/ [wikipedia.org]

    And Neither should have gotten a patent.

    It's almost as if UPSTO examiners have "lobbyists", too?

    • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday March 19, 2012 @05:16PM (#39407393) Homepage

      First to patent, it is becoming blatantly obvious that a performance based for profit USPTO, does not give a crap. Their only check now, is it patented, no, approve the patent. Straight up coprruption of the patent system by the US government, establishing a system where the US profits by the most indefensible patents.

      First patent fee, then based up approval of bogus patent, guaranteed legal challenges. All those legal attacks and defences to be fought at in US courts, by US lawyers, bleeding foreign corporations dry spending hundreds of millions of dollars upon blatant in your face corporate driven corruption of US government agencies.

      It is obvious that US patent lawyers have got deeply involved in how the USPTO, managed and run, in how patents are approved and basically guaranteed a muli-million dollar patent litigation industry.

      It is pretty obvious that the US administration is the one that needs to be hauled into court and held financially accountable, penalties and damages, resulting from bad patent approvals.

  • by million_monkeys (2480792) on Monday March 19, 2012 @05:06PM (#39407323)

    Dear judges and patent people,

    We all know children love emoticons, if this patent stands than children might not be able to use 1 click emoticons anymore. Please think of the children and revoke this patent. (how come the 'think of the children' argument never uses it's powers for good?)

  • I sense that someone REALLY hates patent trolls.

    • by million_monkeys (2480792) on Monday March 19, 2012 @05:22PM (#39407437)

      I sense that someone REALLY hates patent trolls.

      Yeah, it's probably a lot more biased than it needs to be.

      But as for hating patent trolIs, are there many people who actually like them? Obviously some lawyers because it keeps them employed, but other than that? And is there anyone who tries to make a case that they are somehow beneficial to society? (serious questions BTW. I've never heard any argument in support of this practice)

      • Yeah, it's probably a lot more biased than it needs to be.

        Thanks, sometimes I wonder if anyone ever notices my efforts.

        But as for hating patent trolIs, are there many people who actually like them? Obviously some lawyers because it keeps them employed, but other than that?

        Well, that's a tough question. I would imagine that they like themselves but not other patent trolls but I can't be sure if they hate themselves. Perhaps we should investigate if the rate of suicide is higher in patent trolls? On a more serious note, there is one odd person that likes patents: nationalists. Whether you be a member of the US government or just a good ole fashion rah rah USA nutjob, there is a growing intellectual war between the United States and China. Sure, other countries like Japan get a lot of patents but patent trolls translate to "innovation" when it comes to number of patents and, let's face it, it's patent trolls that file for the most patents without actually building anything or licensing anything. I guess you could argue that they hurt the economy when small businesses get blindsided by these lawsuits but they always target the deepest coffers which usually seem to be happy to cough up and settle out of court. I can't think of anyone else really that benefits from this -- even the courtrooms in East Texas are clogged with shitty patent cases while trying to take care of real problems among the local people.

        And is there anyone who tries to make a case that they are somehow beneficial to society? (serious questions BTW. I've never heard any argument in support of this practice)

        Well, your question could be answered by This American Life's Episode 441 [thisamericanlife.org] but there's a key problem. First, in that podcast, Intellectual Ventures argues that they help inventors protect their IP by suing the shit out of everyone that tries to implement anything remotely like the patents in question. And they also claim that they constantly license patents to people without involving a painful legal battle. However, as the TAL team asks for a happy license customer, IV can only give them one name of someone whose patent they license. And, gosh darn it, wouldn't you know it, as they tried to contact this individual it turned out that Intellectual Ventures was going around suing people and gathering out of court settlements in the name of that patent without the right to. And IV's response to this? Us normal people don't know what the hell we're talking about [techdirt.com].

        So there you go, sorry for the bias in my submission and this post but, well, when it warrants it I'm not afraid to call horseshit horseshit.

  • Wildseed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cliffjumper222 (229876) on Monday March 19, 2012 @06:42PM (#39408219)

    I worked with Wildseed - they were a good bunch of folks with a decent idea - a phone targeted at kids that you could swap the outside and it'd change the UI. They planned to sell different branded shells for pop groups, etc. that would effectively re-theme the phone you had completely. The phone itself was really funky, with a slight boomerang shape, and the keyboard was at the top with the screen below. (You can see a diagram here http://www.freepatentsonline.com/D0470135-0-large.jpg). The phone also had an LED strip on the top of the phone that enabled you to sky-write messages to others by waving the phone. I also remember they had a cool FM radio channel sharing feature, where you could quickly tell your mates to check out a station. All in all, they had a tonne of ideas and they did in fact manage to sell a few phones, but ultimately, it died and AOL bought them.
    The patent looks good to me. Very solid, and narrow. It's for a hardware button on the phone that enables you to quickly enter emoticons. Unless someone can point to a phone that did that before, then I don't see any prior art. As for obviousness, that's a very low bar. If no one had done it before (for emoticons) then why would it be obvious?
    The problem I see here is that the good intended patent, to protect a start-up's business ended up in a troll haus.

    Cliff

    • by St.Creed (853824)

      If no one had done it before (for emoticons) then why would it be obvious?

      Because noone cared for the extra key before? If someone asks me "how can I design something, say, an input function, on the phone that will quickly write an emoticon in the message they're typing" then an extra key would be *pretty* obvious. Hence, it fails the "obvious" test.

      This whole patent was stupid to start with, and now it's been weaponized. Great going.

      Relevant article of other person who this happened too: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2012/03/opinion-baio-yahoo-patent-lie/ [wired.com]

    • by w_dragon (1802458)
      If it's only for a hardware button then which BlackBerry do they claim infringes? BBM has a emoticon button, but it's software. Software emoticon buttons have been around for nearly as long as emoticons. Adding 'on a cell phone' does not make it novel.
    • by mdmkolbe (944892)

      If no one had done it before (for emoticons) then why would it be obvious?

      Perhaps obviousness should be scrapped for a better condition like "obvious once you've stated the problem you're solving" or something that rules out patents that are simple enough that their title is the answer (e.g. "one-click").

  • Sigh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cyberllama (113628) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:58PM (#39408829)

    Samsung "gets a free pass" because they used their patents the "right" way and used it as a defensive deterrent against other lawsuits. When Apple sued them, they sued back as a means of increasing their leverage in a legal battle. Samsung wasn't out simply trolling with the patent, as this company seems to be.

  • My old Samsung feature phone did *exactly* what is claimed in this patent. Including details like selecting the emoticon using the 3x4 button grid on the phone. It came out around 2005 when this patent was filed. I'm sure it wasn't Samsungs first phone to have that feature either.
  • Obvious things are obvious.

    Request: I need a way to quickly enter a specific character on the screen. Obvious solution: Make a button.

    There's plenty of prior art: Japanese fonts look like a bunch of emoticons to me. Japanese keyboard is full of emoticon buttons. DONE.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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