26. January 2006 · Comments Off on Is Snarky Commentary Patentable? · Categories: Ain't That America?, Technology

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr comments on Cingular’s attempt to patent smilies on cellphones (application number US 2006/0015812 A1):


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.

I don’t think this patent will happen. the most obvious reason, as I see it, is that there is no clear differentiation here between cellphones and laptops (where they have been used for years). Indeed, technologically, there is very little difference between a contemporary cellphone and a laptop.

Update: Ok, you’ve got to read the comments. I’m sure a lot of people here will find this patent (5,443,036) for a method of exercising a cat particularly “interesting”. 🙂

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