I thought that I had read it all when it came to silly patents. Apparently not. The Register reports on U.S. patent application 20060015812 by mobile giants Cingular, attempting to patent the use of emoticons in wireless devices. The abstract reads:

A method and system for generating a displayable icon or emoticon form that indicates the mood or emotion of a user of the mobile station. A user of a device, such as a mobile phone, is provided with a dedicated key or shared dedicated key option that the user may select to insert an emoticon onto a display or other medium. The selection of the key or shared dedicated key may result in the insertion of the emoticon, or may also result in the display of a collection of emoticons that the user may then select from using, for example, a key mapping or navigation technique.

The patenting of a key that displays emoticons. Who would have thought of that? 🙂 There is no novelty here, and I would say that this application is thoroughly obvious, and therefore should not get a patent. The application goes on to explain what is understood as an emoticon:

🙂 or 🙂 Smile 😉 or 😉 Wink 😀 or 😀 Big smile :-)) or :)) Very happy :0) Big nose smiley |-) Cool! >:-) or >:) Evil grin >;-> or >;> Evil grin with a wink :-X or :X My lips are sealed }:-) or }:) Devilish :-{circumflex over ( )}) or :{circumflex over ( )}) Tongue in cheek 😛 or 😛 Sticking out tongue :-& or :& Tongue tied :op Puppy face 0:-) or 0:) Saint :-)8 or :)8 Happy wearing a bow tie 😎 or 8) Happy with glasses #-) I partied all night %-) or %) Drunk :-###.. or :###.. Being sick %-( or %( Confused :-0 or :0 Shocked 😮 or 😮 Surprised 😐 or 😐 Indecision :’-( or :'( Crying :’-) or :’) Crying of happiness 🙁 or 🙁 Sad


NOTE: It seems like Andrew Orlowski from The Register continues to get his stories wrong. The patent claim is not to patent emoticons, it is to patent a key in a mobile phone that inserts them into the text. Big difference.

Categories: Patent abuse

1 Comment


Karl-Friedrich Lenz · January 27, 2006 at 11:53 pm

I blogged a similar effort by Microsoft last sommer. My comment at the time:"While the patent office should reply with a big costum emoticon for "Rolling on the Floor Laughing" to this application, they probably won't."

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