Cingular Patenting the Emoticon :(

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Emoticon
Cingular Wireless has managed to get a patent on the concept of using emoticon on mobile phones. While the aim of the patent is to enable the displaying of MSN style graphics on handsets, they also managed to patent the delivery of text based emoticon – so presumably sending :) via an SMS – if selected via a dedicated or softkey, would be a breach of the patent in future.

The method and system described in the patent allows a user of a mobile phone (or other device) to select a displayable icon, such as an emoticon, that indicates the mood or emotion of the user or conveys other information independent of text. In some embodiments, the selected displayable icon is inserted into a text message or screen, such as an instant message, chat screen, or user text field.


The system may also support the import of emoticons and custom emoticons to one or more applications running on the mobile device. For example, in some embodiments, users may visit an out-of-band service (e.g., web page) to compose or upload custom emoticons that would then become available on the wireless device’s palette.

We can’t really add much more to the story – only to hope that they then lock the patent away in a dark box somewhere and effectively ban the use of the graphical horrors on mobile phones forever – sorry, I really don’t like them.

The patent number is US 2006/0015812 A1

  • BBP

    Two points: First, Cingular didn’t actually *get* a patent — they *applied* for a patent last March that has just recently published. So they don’t have any rights in this invention yet, and in fact the patent office hasn’t even looked at the invention in any substance at this point. So while Cingular is *asking* for a patent on the idea, they’re a long, long way from actually *getting* something that can be enforced against others.

    Secondly, the actual invention claimed by Cingular is quite a bit narrower than the above text would imply. Basically, Cingular has described their invention as a phone with a special “emoticon” button that enters emoticons automatically (that is, it enters “:-)” with a single button press rather than three separate presses). It’s not as novel as the wheel, fire or sliced bread, but it’s not as bad as you might think. It’s also reasonable to expect that this will get even narrower before it actually issues (probably in another year or two).

    Love the site, by the way!

  • BBP

    Two points: First, Cingular didn’t actually *get* a patent — they *applied* for a patent last March that has just recently published. So they don’t have any rights in this invention yet, and in fact the patent office hasn’t even looked at the invention in any substance at this point. So while Cingular is *asking* for a patent on the idea, they’re a long, long way from actually *getting* something that can be enforced against others.

    Secondly, the actual invention claimed by Cingular is quite a bit narrower than the above text would imply. Basically, Cingular has described their invention as a phone with a special “emoticon” button that enters emoticons automatically (that is, it enters “:-)” with a single button press rather than three separate presses). It’s not as novel as the wheel, fire or sliced bread, but it’s not as bad as you might think. It’s also reasonable to expect that this will get even narrower before it actually issues (probably in another year or two).

    Love the site, by the way!