Is Samsung really suing Apple over emoticons? (*^_^*)

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The patent war between Apple Inc. and smartphone rival Samsung Electronics continues to escalate, and there’s only one way to describe the latest vicious salvo:



That’s right, it appears that Samsung has initiated a lawsuit against Apple governing the company’s use of emoticons.

According to a report from patent observer Florian Mueller, who has been dependably covering the worldwide patent wrestling match between Apple and Android manufacturers, one of four new patent lawsuits filed by Samsung in German court is over, once again, yes, emoticons.

Believe it or not, Samsung does indeed own a patent on smartphone use of emoticons. It won the European rights to that ‘technology’ in 2000, and interested readers can see the actual patent here.

The bizarreness of two global electronics powerhouses fighting over emoticons is only deepened when you see that the symbols at issue are not the newfangled illustrated and colorful emoticons you see in apps like this, but rather the old-fashioned parentheses-and-colon kind that many of us have come to abhor. Or adopt. :0).

What appears to be specifically at issue is a smartphone function for allowing users to quickly add prefabricated emoticon strings with a single touch. Some of those strings are rather involved. Like

(^3^)-* Chu!!



If you’re wondering where the iPhone comes in, it turns out, you can find the iPhone menu pictured at above right by turning on the Japanese keyboard under Settings-->General-->Keyboard-->International Keyboards. Then when you try to write a text message with the Japanese keyboard, you’ll see an emoticon option that will trigger the above menu. It is a veritable dictionary of inscrutable and cheery character sequences. To be fair, they are apparently much more recognizable in the East, where the population had been texting en masse for years by the time we started here in the U.S.


Indeed, the feature is apparently important enough in some countries to sue over. Which to me is just


Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Bonus question: Identify the meaning of the following lengthy emoticon pictured in Samsung’s patent:


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-- David Sarno