Emoticons are the little smiley's and other combinations of characters that people use online in text messages to indicate emotion. They're sort of like online equivalent of a smirk to let people know you're kidding or being sarcastic when you say something that could be construed as mean. This week a company called Varia Holdings filed a lawsuit against Samsung and RIM over patent infringement.
The patent that was allegedly infringed on is called "emoticon input method and apparatus." The plaintiff isn't claiming ownership of these emoticons, rather it is claiming it owns the concept of allowing users to choose from emoticons automatically rather than having to make them manually. Samsung and RIM have pop-up menus that have a bunch of pre-configured macros for emoticons.
Varia offers up a massive list of devices from Samsung that are infringing on the patent along with multiple BlackBerry smartphones as well. This patent was originally granted to a company called Wildseed, which was later purchased by AOL, and then later spun off from AOL. Among the BlackBerry devices alleged infringing the patent are the Bold, Curve, Pearl, and Storm. Some the smartphones from Samsung plaintiff range include the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, and Transform. I certainly don't see how a pop-up menu of preconfigured characters from a keyboard warrants a patent.
[via Ars Technica]