back to article Samsung hauls Apple into court over emoticon patent :-(

Samsung has opened a new offensive in its ongoing patent dispute with smartphone arch-rival Apple. Fresh claims, filed in Germany, charge Apple with violating a pair of patents relating to the implementation of the WCDMA 3G telecom standard and another two patents relating to smartphone utilities, one of which involves the …

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  1. Armando 123
    FAIL

    Prior Art

    I heard that someone found the first use of this back in the early 80s, either in a news feed or on a BBS post. The person even explained it.

  2. Tchou
    Thumb Up

    Well after all, heavy lawsuits are a way to redistribute money in the system....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...to the lawyers.

      1. Shannon Jacobs
        Holmes

        Evil is as evil does

        And all of these lawsuits are producing better smart phone exactly how?

        Obviously not. That's what happens when the legal rules of the business game are written by corrupt politicians owned by the least ethical businessmen with the biggest bribes. Most businesspeople are NOT like that--they just play the game fairly by the rules. It's a tiny minority of the WORST businessmen who have created a legal system (especially in America) that essentially requires the biggest companies to become more and more evil just to survive.

    2. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Well, yeah, except that it gets redistributed to lawyers.

      1. mmm mmm

        And if you buy either of those brands, it's you that's paying for the lawyers in inflated product costs.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge
      Happy

      I think the patent is something to do with the phone detecting :-) in the message and replacing it with an actual picture of a smiley face.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I think the patent is something to do with the phone detecting :-) in the message and replacing it with an actual picture of a smiley face."

        If this is true, humanity is in a worse situation than I thought. I'm off to patent all my regexs.

      2. chr0m4t1c

        @jonathanb

        If that's the case, then Samsung are onto a loser with that part of the case, 'cos the iPhone doesn't do that (some apps do, but that's not Apple's fault).

        If things continue like this the Germans will be back to tin-cans and string before long.

    4. Annihilator

      Doubt it's actual emoticons

      I'm guessing that it's not the display of ":-)" that is the target, more the parsing of text messages that contain ":-)" and substituting it for an image of a smiley face.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So they patented something that MS-Word (and other wordprocessors) have been doing for decades.

        Having simple character representations of what are otherwise complex/non-standard symbols has been around for ages. One could argue that the C programming language sort of did this by recognising "??(" as a square bracket [ and that's been around since the ~1970.

        I've never used a Trigraph in 25 years of using C/C++, but they were only ever needed for non-ascii computers.

  3. Ali on the Reg

    In the mean time the otherwise intriguing Galaxy Tab 7.7 is going stale whilst rumours of a 7" iPad circulate again

  4. Dazed and Confused

    Lets just ban all the damn things till they kiddies have made friends again

    this is getting increasingly tiresome, can't they all be sent to their rooms till they promise to play nicely.

  5. admiraljkb
    Stop

    :^)

    I think the whole thing is stupid really and a waste of consumer and taxpayer money on multiple continents, but Samsung didn't start it, but it looks like they'll finish it.

    Lesson to Apple, never byte off more than you can chew. Apple has look and feel (pseudo) patents that could be overturned in a heartbeat, and Samsung has a lot of technical/engineering patents which are harder to overturn (and apparently a couple of look and feels as well). Technical patents at the end of the day trumps "look and feel". Apple should settle quickly before a good chunk of their patents are just thrown out altogether. Not to mention all the advertising they're giving to Samsung, and the increasing perception that Apple can't compete after Steve is gone. Not good for their stock price.

    1. ArmanX
      Thumb Up

      ...we can hope.

      These days, the courts seem to decide things based on coin tosses and input from children. There is the very real chance that in a given country, BOTH Samsung and iPhone are banned, because they each break the others patent.

      Actually, that would make me laugh. I hope that happens.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Samsung isn't going to finish it

      Take your blinkers off; at this point Samsung and Apple are behaving as badly as each other and neither's approach has any moral or ethical merit.

      When they're necessarily available with FRAND licensing terms, technical patents don't achieve anything more than patents are meant to achieve — Samsung will be paid a fair amount. "Well we've got some IP that we can have a court compel you to pay a sensible amount for" isn't much of a comeback to "We've got some IP that we can get a court to use to ban your product".

      1. admiraljkb

        @ThomH

        Blinkers aren't on, trust me, but fair enough statements. :) Apple is in an interesting situation of having refused to pay Samsung FRAND prior to the current cases, and I suppose future cases at this rate. I don't know what happens there other than maybe a judge eventually tells Apple to pay up with major penalties *if* they turn out to found liable, but that isn't the issue really here. Samsung is just trying to get paid, and doesn't appear that they would have started those suits if Apple hadn't started theirs.

        For me when I say Samsung will finish it, I don't mean they're going to wipe Apple from the planet or anything. It is just that at the end of the day, that many of the look and feel patents that Apple thinks it has, will likely be invalidated. A US Federal Judge hinted towards that already as the case moved forward, and is the reason Samsung can still sell into the US. Yes, Samsung will get paid for their tech patents, or not depending on court cases agreeing with Apple's view, but Apple is betting their farm that the Judges involved in their cases haven't watched scifi programs and movies from the last 40 years, and that if the Judges see the similarities, that Apple has really, really good attorneys with reality distortion fields spun up to full power. Realistically, the scifi writers, producers, directors and set and prop guys designed a lot of the look and feel of this stuff in advance. They couldn't put the tech behind it, but they knew how it *should* basically work. I was marveling recently at an episode of DS9, and another of Voyager where some of that tablet tech looked so familiar now, and basically none of it existed when the shows were on. I hadn't watched either in a while, since prior to me having a large smartphone and a tablet. I mean ~15 years ago I was marveling how my phone resembled Star Trek communicators from the original series. Now my phone and tablet resemble the PADD's from the new series, and I handle them and to a degree interact with them about the same. Pretty cool really. Makes me sad there isn't some ST on currently to cover what data devices will look like in another 10-20 years. :)

        From recent history, the last major suit that Apple did over the UI ( against MS, HP and Norton/Symantec) they lost, BIG. It was a risky suit, about like the current look and feel patent suits are risky now. That loss paved the way for an unrestricted UI in Win95 and ultimately pushed Apple off the desktop space. The stakes are just as high this time, and Apple doesn't appear to have learned much from the last time. If they lose again, what will happen? I don't know, but I do know when you focus on the litigation instead of innovation, you will lose the innovation. You can't focus on both. So even if Apple wins, it might ultimately be a Pyhrric victory...

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          Boffin

          @admiraljkb

          IANAL, but I seem to recall that Apple lost that case because of prior art - i.e. they stole their UI ideas from those developed at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Centre in the '80s

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What was stolen?

            Nothing was. A perfectly legitimate business transaction took place.

            This meme that seems to keep popping up is easily dealt with by a swift application of the facts

          2. admiraljkb
            Boffin

            @Loyal Commenter

            Yes, prior art played a part since the UI Apple had was lifted from PARC's late 70's/early 80's research and development, and still has to a large degree... Xerox did sue Apple for copying their GUI right after Apple sued MS for copying their GUI. That got brought up in the Apple/MS case, and it was determined they both copied Xerox. IIRC that was under copyright law, and during the same timeframe Lotus end up losing their "look and feel" copyright suit against Borland. It was determined you can't copyright look and feel, and legal precedent was set. Hence nowadays they're doing it with Patents instead. Will it work? I dunno. If this doesn't work, I suspect they'll (all of them, not just Apple) have a go with Trademark law for round 3 in a few years, which might be more effective when dealing with device shapes and unique GUI elements that are representative of your company. In fact for Apple and the way they approached it, trademark law probably would have been the way to go. Had Apple gone the trademark route (along the lines of trade dress) on the look and feel of the iPhone, they'd probably win.

            The fact that Xerox had patent issues (it was being regulated as a monopoly at the time), it couldn't protect the innovations it was doing. Ethernet networking, laser printers, the GUI interface, personal computing such as what we have now, and not an Altair. Bad for Xerox, awesome for the rest of us though. The modern computing era would be 10-20 years behind if Xerox had been able to file and defend it's patents...

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Prior art

        I trust every messenger known to man and phones that were replacing ascii emoticons in messages with graphics years ago will also be banned?

        This story is a shining example of why patents as they stand at the moment are nonsense.

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Since when has an emoticon been worthy of a technical patent?

      If Samsung has hundreds of technical patents why are they scraping the bottom if the barrel with this?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      See, I think that'd work well!

      If you're being infringed sufficiently to want you to pull their product from the shelves immediately (rather than let them sell more and sue them for more later), you should have to at least cease shipping the infringed product. You can then, if they're found to be infringing, claim the cash back.

      It's less of a problem for the smaller businesses as they bring in less, and it's more of a burden on the massive corps like Apple.

      Where no products actually using the patented stuff actually exist, I'm not sure what could happen. A large bond or something similar, perhaps.

    5. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Apple have a long history in computing and the Apple Newton was started in 1987. So I'm sure they have plenty of technical and software patents. So claiming they have no heritage in mobile technology is a bit silly.

  6. ratfox Silver badge
    Facepalm

    That would be patent EP1215867

    There cannot be many patents that contain a table with examples such as (^3^)-* or (o)(o).

    It does seem that the iPhone's emoticon keyboard (yes, there is one) does something very similar to what is described in the patent (for once quite easy to read).

    Of course, maybe the discussion should rather be about why a patent was granted on such a system. /sarcasm

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Gimp

      You must be wrong!

      I'm sure the iPhone would ban "(o)(o)"

      1. Syx

        Why would you ban two Mexicans being viewed from above?

    2. Cowardly Animosity
      Coat

      More of a (ˑ)(ˑ) for the iphone, no?

      1. Jordan 1
        Trollface

        I like these better

        ( o Y o)

  7. silent_count

    Sign of the times, it seems

    This practice of getting an injunction to stop the sales of a rival's (supposedly patient infringing) products has got to be stomped into the ground, and stomped hard. It seems that it's getting used more frequently as a business tactic because it's cheaper to pursue a court case than to suffer the sales loss of allowing a competing product on the market.

    To make it stop, make the complainant put all of their revenue (from the country in which the case is heard) from the day the case begins until it's resolved into an escrow account. If the court upholds the complaint then they get to keep their revenue and whatever judgement the court makes. If the court finds for the defendant, then the defendant is handed the value of the escrow account in lieu of the sales/market share lost during the case.

    1. Dr Potatohead
      Stop

      what if I have no cash

      ... and was the actual inventor of the technology who was just defending my IP?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Then I guess you would have very little to loose out of your escrow account. Making it a relatively low-risk excercise for the little-guy.

      2. John G Imrie Silver badge

        Re: what if I have no cash

        Instead of getting an injunction at the start of the process, you collect the payment through to the end. This means that the person you are accusing of infringing has an incentive to get the case over with as fast as possible so as to limit their liability.

        You would also need to ensure that the accused needs to be able to say that the accuser is dragging their feet and they want a guillotine on any payment.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @silent_count

      The defendant is already free to sue back for damages if the court awards them the judgement.

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    The real problem

    Is that it's making patents useless for those of us that actually rely on them.

    My company invents things, we invent things that get used in very big expensive machines that we couldn't possibly manufacture - so we have to licence them to big companies.

    Without patents the company could just look at our ideas and copy them for free - instead of now where they licence our ideas and manufacture them in China who then copy them for free.

    But getting patents is becoming increasingly expensive since we have to have expensive lawyers go through all these patents to make sure we don't violate any of them. Because when we do agree a deal with Random Giant Corp - they expect us to show that we haven't violated any of Other Giant Corp's patents.

    Even then we get letters from Different Giant Corp saying basically "we have a million patents in this area - you must have violated something, admit it". And of course the cost of the lawyers saying no is a lot higher than hiring engineers to actually invent things.

    Sometimes I think it would be better if we just gave and built a factory ourselves making knock off iPads.

    \

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "My company invents things"

      What kind of things? It seems to me that if your business really needs patents and your business isn't software or "design", you'd be better off arguing very hard indeed for software and user interface patents to be slashed off the vine and burnt as soon as possible. Arguing that patents are super-important for everyone will just bring you and everyone else more misery: you can't put the "patent quality" genie back in the bottle, and there are a lot of people who rightfully don't want software patents upheld on the basis of someone supposedly having some "really good ones".

    2. LaeMing Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      That pretty-much hits the nail.

      There is nothing wrong with patents (or most other forms of IP) per-se. The problem is the system has been perverted to the point of complete disfunction. It has gone from a system to reward innovators and creators to a system that rewards lawyers and their keepers for stifling innovation and creation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "My company invents things, we invent things that get used in very big expensive machines that we couldn't possibly manufacture - so we have to licence them to big companies."

      So, by definition [1] you're a patent troll.

      1) "Enforces patents against purported infringers without itself intending to manufacture the patented product or supply the patented service;"

      1. Mark 65

        @AC:22:53

        Are you really that stupid? "Without itself intending to...". They clearly stated that they could not possibly afford to rather than couldn't be arsed to.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: patent troll

        That's a really crap definition of a patent troll.

        YAAC seemed to describe a perfectly legitimate line of business -- some sort of R&D house that does the heavy thinking on behalf of others who prefer to specialise in heavy manufacturing. Such specialisation is one of the simplest ways of boosting efficiency in a market economy. This was identified by Adam Smith so long ago that it is now mentioned on UK bank notes as one of our finest national accomplishments. (Opinions may differ on that one, but it's fairly notable at any rate.)

        Even if YAAC worked for a "middleman" company that bought patents off the heavy thinkers in order to sell to the heavy lifters, you'd still be in error, since if the law creates IP rights then a free market economy should allow them to be traded.

        A patent troll is someone whose line of business is suing, not invention. They collect up patents that are too bad to have any intrinsic value and they "give" them value by using bully-boy legal tactics, effectively forcing those who don't need to licence them (because they're invalid) a reason to do so (because they're scared of the fallibility of the courts).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ The Real problem

      I can't believe someone voted you down for that!

      My brother work as an inspector in the petrochemical industry in the Gulf area. His firm is part of a Korean conglomerate.

      He was home a couple of months back and recounted a story about something that had been shipped over from Korea for the project he was working on. He said that it was a copy of something he was very familiar with - a very poor copy at that, as it broke while it was being moved.

      His pay-off to the story was - that's the trouble with the Koreans - they copy everything all the time - and do it badly to boot..

      He wasn't aware of the current Apple-Samsung spat and was just recounting his own experience and explaining why he was looking for another project that didn't involve a Korean firm.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The real problem

        ... with so many of "TheReg" commentards is that almost none of them have ever lived or worked in Asia. Live here for 5 minutes and you will have a completely different "world view" and your attitude to IP theft might be radically altered.

        Samsung can and do build some wonderfully designed, well executed products, both components and finished goods. The Galaxy Tab is, however, a blatant knock-off using an OS that is trying to be iOS. Apple feels that it is worth their effort to defend their product in the courts, and that is their right.

        Courts have dealt with mich more highly complicated matters than these particular suits, and these ones will get get their shot at justice.

        I have money on Apple, because in the long run, they can pull the pin on Samsung as a component supplier.

        Dweeb

        1. James O'Brien
          Flame

          @ The real problem

          Yeeeeessss......that's right let the anger flow through you.

          See the problem with your last statement about crApple pulling the plug on Samsung works both ways. What happens to crApple if Samsung decide to stop shipping processors to them? Oops a lot of r&d just went down the toilet and needs to be done again after Apple can find a supplier who's willing to deal with them after this fiasco.

          Twat

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @james o'brien

            "What happens to crApple if Samsung decide to stop shipping processors to them?"

            They get sued out of existence for breach of contract *or* face antitrust suits *or* more likely both.

            Muppet.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ James O'Brien

            You may not have noticed that Samsung are making Apple parts for Apple - not Samsung parts.

  9. Gian
    Mushroom

    kudos to Samsung

    They show the ridiculousness of the A§§_è paranoids

  10. swschrad
    Devil

    idiots! prior art exists.

    it was in the early 80s on CompuServe that I first downloaded a sheet of emoticons onto green-bar paper. they were older than that. both these outfits should be barred from importing electronics until they grow up and get wise. this krep is getting way, way old.

  11. tekHedd
    Unhappy

    Excuse me, but...

    Did you just say "emoticon patent?" Those two words together beautifully illustrate the problems with modern patent law.

    I prefer ascii emoticons, and the modern tendency to "automatically ruin" my emoticons is really frustrating! I have a better idea: when the computer detects an emoticon, it should substitute a graphic of the same text, but presented in a proper fixed-width terminal font.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "but Samsung didn't start it, but it looks like they'll finish it"

    I know it's the pant season so - OH YES THEY DID - by blatantly copying the iPhone / iPad.

    1. indulis
      FAIL

      How did Samsung "copy" the iPad?

      "I know it's the pant season so - OH YES THEY DID - by blatantly copying the iPhone / iPad."

      How did Samsung copy the iPad? By using a rectangular screen with a minimal border? By trying to minimise the number of buttons? Did they copy the software? Copy the operating system? Did they commit a crime by using industry-supplied components which were also used by Apple in a similar way?

      By that logic, every car is a "blatant copy". Every plane is a "blatant copy". Every TV set is a "blatant copy". Every laptop is a "blatant copy".

      The iPad is a well engineered "bloated phone" or "bloated colour Palm". It rests on its own history of non-infringing-copying/improving that we should all support. Including Apple.

      Ahem- Xerox Parc-mouse-GUI-ahem. Ahem-space-odyssey-astronaut-pad-ahem. (look that up for a laugh- original? Apple? Ha! Oh, look it up without the "ahems".)

      Steve Job's stupid rants against other mobile phones/pads don't make it reality.

      We need to get rid of the IP-lockdown which is going to get worse and worse, and go back to a patent system where the logic of granting the patent is up front, not somethign that has to be (expensively) proved in court later.

  13. BadBart
    Devil

    Lawyers

    And... the lawyers win again!... as always.

  14. OffBeatMammal

    Duke it out

    Tim Cook and his oppostive number from Samsung should be thrown in a paddling pool full of jello and the one left standing should be declared the winner and the lawyers won't get a dime.... much more entertaining than the current soap opera...

  15. salada2k

    What's really happening

    Do you really think these two companies dont 'like' each other? They both keep each other in business. The heads are currently sitting behind closed doors, clinking glassed of champagne, and congratulating themselves on how well this new marketing tactic is going. There's not a week that goes past when they are both not in the headlines. Is it actually 'damaging' to any of them? Of course not.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the long run Apple will "win"

    No matter the outcome of the cases, the best Samsung can hope for is "reasonable" license fees for the battles they win (at great expense). I somehow doubt the courts will look kindly on the standards based patent cases, but that is my opinion, not a legal one.

    In the long run, Apple can move it's purchasing to another chip manufacturer. I am sure the contracts are in place for a year or two, but after that, Samsung will be looking for new customers. Samsung only fabricates chips (and screens??) for iThings (and a shitload of them worth billions of dollars in sales to Samsung), but there are plentry of capable fabs that can take the work.

    Samsung must think they will make more money by selling Android things than they will lose by ditching Apple's chip/screen purchasing business.

    Either that, or they are morons. Given the fines recently meted out to Samsung (and others) in the LCD display collusion case, I would not bet heavily against the moron option.

    As for whether software patents as implemented are a good an useful idea, well, there are certainly some dubious patents out there (and I am not talking about trade dress, copyright etc.)

    Dweeb

    1. seansaysthis
      Facepalm

      In the long run we are all dead!

      Samsung are one the largest Chip foundries in the world. They havent been number two in Volume since 2002 by accident. There are not many other companies that have anywhere near the same silicon maufacturing capability. Intel is the largest in terms of volume. Chip process design and manufacture are expensive businesses requiring massive R&D and Capital investment. The idea that a Fab can easily ramp up to take the kind of volume for ipads/iphones volume is a misnomer. Samsung have both the LCD and phone chip market sown up. Even with two years notice its hard to ramp up silcon production , it usually means new process/equipment.

      There has to be a way for inventors to monitise their inventions or innovation ends. The patent system has become a trough for the legal profession.

  17. Brian Miller
    FAIL

    Oh so very prior art

    Specialty keys have been around since ... ah ... the typewriter?? And a patent was granted on this? What is up with the patent examiners?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Errr

    How can you patent an emoticon? Lots of sites use them (including Facebook) are they all going to get sued?

  19. tin 2
    FAIL

    There's no way...

    ...that the disputes only, or mainly, enrich the lawyers, or the companies with the patents wouldn't bother using the services of the lawyers to defend them. Companies aren't stupid, in the main they know a lose-lose situation when they see one.

    1. Mark #255

      re: lawyers

      But...

      Who provides the company with its legal advice (to ascertain costs/benefits)?

      Unfortunately, it seems that, like XML, once you start using them, the only viable course is to use more and more.

  20. John Tserkezis

    "If Samsung has hundreds of technical patents why are they scraping the bottom if the barrel with this?"

    They're trying to piss Apple off?

    Yes, there is significant prior art (if it is was I think it is, there's no patent numbers specified), but the same goes for Apple too.

    This isn't about "you're using our technology" anymopre, if one side bends over and takes it, they WILL go down, so you retaliate with the like till the fight goes away, or one end up broke (whichever comes first).

  21. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @My company invents things

    We don't troll, nobody outside an East Texas law firm can afford to threaten a $Bn company.

    We invent a new magnet designs for an MRI machine, we need to be able to show and explain these to the makers of the machines and offer a licence with some legal protection. A patent on "using the colour green in an MRI machine" doesn't help anyone.

    Software patents are a bit trickier - in theory I'm against them. In practice we sometimes develop processing algorithms aswell.

    Ideally we would write the code and give them a copyright app - but in practice these machines are so locked down to meet FDA that all we can do is describe the algorithm for their own people to implement - often in an FPGA or some custom machine.

    The same problem - once we describe the algorithm it's "out there" unless we have a patent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still think you're right?

      Look, your company makes nothing other than others miserable. MRI machines are expensive because of companies like yours licensing stupid tech for millions.

      If not for you, we'd have cheap MRI clone machines made in China and society would be much better for it.

      MRI processing algorithms are nothing new, most of it is borrowed from other fields like astrophysics and pattern recognition. I know 'cause I work in DTI.

      Don't even try to justify it dude.

  22. Magnus_Pym

    I'm applying for a patent...

    ... on the practice of scamming the patent system by patenting something obvious and inevitable then suing everybody who obviously and inevitably stumbles into it.

    1. Lockwood

      Apple have prior art on that.

  23. MacGyver
    FAIL

    Stupid lawsuit..

    Novel and trivial replacement of a certain string of text with a picture should not have been a patent in the first place.

    Once again, way to go patent office, you are morons. If I patent the methodology for being a moron, will they be forced to stop acting like morons.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      There can be no "novel" replacement of a certain string of text with a picture. It's called "mark-up" and has been automated since computers were first used to generate reports. Prior to that, the basic idea was presumably the second thing invented after the printing press. (The first would have been pornographic woodcuts.) Trouble is, these youngsters grew up with WYSIWYG and just don't know how it used to be done.

      But yes, morons, the lot of 'em.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @Ken Hagen

        Interesting slant. By thinking of it like this, you can consider emoticon replacement as an assembler or compiler.

        I'm not sure whether a basic assembler pre-dates mark-up systems for printing, but I think that it might, although....

        IIRC, special card images used to exist for carriage control in the days of Hollerith cards, pre-dating electronic computers, and dating back to mechanical card sorting machines. Would this count? Or possibly particular sequences of cards in Jacquard looms to weave patterns in cloth. That may be a bit of a stretch, but it is still taking one sequence of symbols and producing a related but different graphic.

        1. admiraljkb
          Boffin

          @Peter Gathercole

          Well, something like the Rosetta Stone provides multiple examples of symbol substitution as well. :) When you take into account that many written languages were in heiroglyphs, which aren't too dissimilar to current emoticons, I'd say the whole thing is prior art going back a LONG ways. Translating from Chinese could go along those lines as well...

          The only part of this, is I think Samsung has an emoticon soft-keyboard(?), which *might* be a legit patent, unless someone else already thought of it and did it at some point. The MS Symbol selection "soft-keyboard" in Windows 3.x springs to mind as prior art for that.

  24. cs94njw
    Unhappy

    Boring

    I hate to say this, but this continuous stream of patent law suits is just getting really boring. I used to care when there was a chance that justice or common sense might prevail. But this is obviously never-ending, and rediculous.

    El Reg - perhaps summarise these patent disputes once a week?

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