The US mobile operator Cingular is trying to patent emoticons on mobile phones.
Let us remember that patents are there to protect inventors from copycats, allowing them to earn back the hard work that they put into their inventions.
Emoticons are the little cartoon drawings that are displayed in IM or SMS conversations, expressing the author's emotions. The Cingular patents doesn't cover the emoticon itself but "a method and system for generating a displayable icon or emoticon" on a mobile device. Or to put it in plain English: a shortcut to creating emoticons.
It remains unclear exactly what innovation Cingular has brought to the concept of mobile shortcuts to display emoticons, other than that it ripped of the emoticon and the shortcut – none of which were Cingular inventions – and applied it to the field of mobile phones.
I don't pretend to know much about patents, but this one has the stench of "prior art" hanging over it like smell of a run over skunk.
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