Are Emoticons Really at the Center of a Patent Dispute?

Many of you are familiar with the ongoing patent dispute between Apple and Samsung Electronics. The lawsuits span the globe and cover a number of cell phone and tablet technologies.

The subject of the latest dispute made me smile—and by that I mean : ). Yes, you guessed it. The smartphone rivals are reportedly now locked in a patent dispute over emoticons.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Samsung owns a patent on smartphone use of emoticons. In fact, a patent for an “emoticon input method for mobile terminals” was granted in Europe way back in 2000.

In the latest lawsuit, Samsung is challenging the way in which iPhones enter emoticons on the handset’s screen. As detailed by the LA Times, Samsung specifically alleges that the iPhone’s Japanese emoticon keyboard infringes on its patent. When users activate the Japanese keyboard, they also activate an emoticon menu and, with one touch, can add multiple complex emoticons.

While the subject of the latest patent lawsuit is amusing, it will likely have serious consequences in this growing patent war. Many expect Apple to file at least one retaliatory suit in the near future.

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