Monday, July 25, 2005

Microsoft's application relating to emoticons (US 20050156873)

A patent application by Microsoft, Custom emoticons, US Appl. No. 20050156873 (published July 21, 2005) has gathered some publicity.

Claim 1 recites:

1. A method, comprising:
selecting pixels to be used as an emoticon;
assigning a character sequence to the pixels; and
transmitting the character sequence to a destination to allow for reconstruction of the pixels at the destination.

from Red Herring:

Microsoft is garnering a lot of attention for filing for a patent on emoticons, the increasingly complex graphics that have become online shorthand for emotion.

“Microsoft has filed for a patent on the smiley face. No. Really,” wrote Pamela Jones of Groklaw, a popular blog devoted to issues surrounding open source litigation.

The patent application, which was made public [Thursday, July 21], actually addresses methods for speeding up the transfer of emoticons.

In Microsoft’s words, the patent would cover transmitting “character sequences representing the custom emoticons… in order to preserve performance of text messaging.”

Much of the frenzied outrage mistakenly assumed that the patent had already been awarded, and that it covered all aspects of emoticons. But patent experts were skeptical about the emoticon patent application’s merit.


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