From Ars Technica via ZD Net:
Summary: The patent police are back. This time around, a U.S. firm is suing Research in Motion, and Samsung, for infringing a dedicated emoticon button patent.
Samsung and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion are being sued for allegedly infringing an “emoticon input method and apparatus” patent, only a few months after Samsung tried to swipe Apple with the same patent.
The U.S. Patent Office granted a patent based on — of all things — a button that when pressed brings up a list of emoticons for easy input, to grant the user a slight edge over convenience.
Samsung’s patent, used as a paper-based weapon against Apple, is being challenged by Varia Holdings because U.S. Patent 7167731 predates the patent that Samsung owns and is using against Apple.
But RIM and other mobile hotshots are being sued over the patent, because their devices have hardware keys specifically designed for bringing up an emoticon menu.
At least the patent is for the button, rather than the emoticon itself. Back in 2001, Despair Inc. tried to albeit jokingly trademark the unhappy-face emoticon....MORE