Research In Motion sued for patent infringement regarding "Emoticon Input Method and Apparatus"

BlackBerry Emoticons
By Adam Zeis on 19 Mar 2012 12:35 pm EDT
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A patent here, a lawsuit there. RIM's latest patent issues fall to their use of Emoticons on devices. Varia Holdings LLC is suing Research In Motion for infringing on a patent for Emoticon Input Method and Apparatus -- or simply put, using emoticons -- which is obviously a big part of BlackBerry devices. The original patent states in part that:

A mobile communication device having an input key that, when pressed by the user while in text mode, results in the display of a list of emoticons for selection by the user. By displaying a list of emoticons, a more user friendly environment is created through which users may employ emoticons in their communications.

Varia Holdings has held this patent since January of 2007 and is seeking to remedy both the infringement and "the harm caused" by RIM. They are asking that sales of devices containing emoticons by RIM be stopped and that they are compensated for the infringment. The documents were filed on March 15 but no judge has been assigned at this time.

Source: N4BB

Reader comments

Research In Motion sued for patent infringement regarding "Emoticon Input Method and Apparatus"

88 Comments

You've got to be kidding me??!!

Having a Patent for material things is one thing... but having a patent for the actions of a user is just dumb. Might as well patent my ability to eat a cheese burger at McDonalds.

No, the patent is on a simplified input method of inserting emoticon which they do legally have due to a series of buying and selling of small startup companies...but whether they can use the patent to validly sue for the use of simplified input is another question.

This is one I'd really like to see play out. I have trouble imagining Varia being able to make out some entitlement to the emoticon.

nope, iPhone doesn't use their patented simplified input for emoticon...windows phone doesn't either...the actual windows os...I don't know if its even related to their patent anymore

Hmmm... something fishy here... Samsung and Rim only... Maybe Google is behind all this?

Ian
Bold 9900 & PlayBook 64GB Wifi

No, because iPhone and wp do not use their patented simplified emoticon input method...which involves some sort of software popup menu in combination with hardware keys...

"A mobile communication device having an input key that, when pressed by the user while in text mode, results in the display of a list of emoticons for selection by the user. By displaying a list of emoticons, a more user friendly environment is created through which users may employ emoticons in their communications. "

Hmm, when I look at the input method in BBM, looks more like a graphic hotspot to me then a having an 'input key' ... just saying ... but I'm sure it can't be that simple ...

Very good point ... here is my thought, remove them from the "Sym" key as the graphic exists in both BBM and SMS ... from what I can tell 8)

Looks like it's not the emoticons themselves, just the input method. So RIM (in BBM and SMS) has that little button next to text entry field which opens list of emoticons, and then the physical "sym" button also opens some emoticons. So they are suing RIM because those two buttons infringe on the patent.

Not going very far... RIM may just have to pay a small amount to license. I very highly doubt that a judge would rule that RIM stop production of all devices based on this idiocy. Maybe RIM will have to alter software, but doubt that too.

Wierdos, I think I should open a Holdings Company and just start suing people for whatever I can.

It really does seem to be over something stupid... and for the record, if it's the input method.. Windows Live Messenger DOES have an "emoticon" button you can click to bring up a list of emotes for "use by the user"...

My whole vibe from this is just a company desperate enough to go after someone with no leg to stand on...

It states a key, that brings up a graphical list of emoticons. It feels limited to me, as "pressing a key" seems to eliminate any non-physical keyboard. So apple would not be in it's scope, most Android and Win phones would be out of scope too. I don't see this going anywhere. There's been too many handheld devices with a smiley key over the years.

You know it's time the issue of patents for stupidity was stopped, its not really the fault of companies but the fault of the patent office.

Amen! It's like common, everyday stuff is patented such that it stifles creativity and competition.

Want to bring out a new OS ? It patent-speak, it had better not have "an area that can be triggered by any means to activate any means of selecting further items or options."

Yes but the symbol key must be pressed multiple times in order to reach the emotes... Totally different than simply pressing a dedicated emote key duhh *double face palm* . Unless there's a patent for that as well.

That seems to be an obvious counterpoint to these idiots, it is a symbol button and not just an emoticon button.

What harm have they caused. Letting people know that a company called Varia Holdings exists.

Some of these patents that exists are stupid.

So let me get this straight.... they have held the patent since 2007 but are just filing suit for damages in 2012. Is it just me that sees something wrong with this picture?

It crossed my mind too - why is RIM constantly attacked by other companies and the media. WTH!

Here we go again.....there are infringement rights all over the cell phone industry. RIM just seems to be publicized. I wonder WHY?

In this case because it is a blackberry website, they report on blackberry news, a more generic site reported about both rim and samsung being sued.

How can anyone take a patent like this seriously? And yes, why else would they wait if they had this since 2007? Obvious and a cheap way of a money grab!

wow..emoticons around forever, seems like this is just another patent troll...what do they produce anyway? whats the world coming to when someone can patent a key push. I need to register for the Shift Key push and sue everyone with a shift key...

Think I will file a patent today for a button on a communication device that when pressed, will initiate a power up sequence or alternatively a power down sequence. Think anyone has patented that yet?

Yes.
When I saw this post I drove to the patent office (it only took me like two minutes to do all this, by the way) and got the patent on it. I'll wait until 2032 before I sue each and every company for using my power button.

That'll show you guys with your power buttons. And don't think you can get around it by making a button that powers the device on and a separate button to power the device off. I patented that while I was there as well. Nice try.

This doesn't even really go against the patent. The virtual button is just that, a virtual button, thus it is not a "key press". Also, "when pressed by the user while in text mode"... Go ahead, if you think that the symbol key infringes on this patent, go to text mode and press the symbol key. You are now in special character input mode, not emoticon mode, and pressing it again doesn't count because you are no longer in text mode, thus the symbol key brings up the emoticon list when pressed by the user while in special character input mode. While not a perfect argument, it's probably better than their reason why RIM using a button which when pressed three times from text input mode allows you to see a list of emotions made them lose money in any way other than that they did so without paying for use of the patent...

Wonder if the folks @ Varis use blackberries or samsung devices? I hope they don't harm themselves using emoticons.

WTF IS THIS! What a stupid patent, so many other companies have this same interface so why only RIM and WTF is this company their so unknown and broke no wonder they want compensation. Thus they have to every IM company in the world because they all do it.

I know right? Damn patent trolls. Always looking to sue anybody who doesn't have billions of dollars. They can go pick my asshole clean. Fuck them. It'll, likely be thrown out of the courts once it's figured out to be fictitious.

If this thing go through the courts, the US patent office should become the joke of all national and international media.

RIM should put a middle finger emoticon on their devices in a tribute to Varia "what? We have had a patent on this since 2007?" Holdings..

This has the feel of David vs Goliath. Varia Holdings going after some of the largest companies in the world??? RIM's legal team will keep this in litigation for so long that Varia will BEG to drop the suit before it becomes its own liability.

RIM should patent the art of suing - and sue everybody trying to sue anyone for anything at anytime....

I don't understand how they can patent "emoticons".. If anything Blackberry was the one who started them and made them the next cool thing.. smh..

Are these guys sure their patent is not about emotiCON instead of emoticons....????

Hey while we are at it i patent pressing a touch screen with any other finger or tow but the middle ones....

Are these guys sure their patent is not about emotiCON instead of emoticons....????

Hey while we are at it i patent pressing a touch screen with any other finger or tow but the middle ones....

Are these guys sure their patent is not about emotiCON instead of emoticons....????

Hey while we are at it i patent pressing a touch screen with any other finger or tow but the middle ones....

Would this patent even be relevant for RIM? BlackBerry's have ALWAYS had a "Sym" key, since at least 2000 when I had my first Berry. And pressing the Sym key -- you guessed it -- "displayed a list of symbols (including emoticons) for selection by the user". Even BlackBerry Messenger had this way before this patent was even filed in January 2007.

Dont know if this makes any sense still but they say Varia Holdings file for patent of emoticon in 2007....was emoticon around long before that ? And wasn't RIM using the same input key to insert emoticon long before 2007?

The lawyers at Research In Motion should visit the principals of Varia LLC and screw their genital to the boardroom table. If Research In Motion caves in to this frivolous lawsuit the last morsel of respect for the company will vaporize.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the Pearl 81xx has a symbol key that brought up the emoticons in BBM in 2006 so should that not be prior art?

Yes, this is ridiculous, lmao, you guys are crazy, but u kno what , scary it def is.. RIM call your lawyers..

I just had an idea that will make me rich beyond all hope: I'll register patents about any kind of crap just for the fun of suing companies that use anything close to what they are about.

I'm gonna be RICH! (no smiling emoticon was used during the composition of this post for fear of being sued by Varia Holdings LLC)

People are metards.

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in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

I patented peeing and pooing. Have you peed or pood today? If so, expect a bill. Me and the guy with the bottom wiping patent should be cashing in soon.
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in the time of your life, live so that in that good time, there should be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life that your life touches, seek goodness everywhere

Even if this plays out in court, I don't think this company has a strong case, I just checked my bbm and I have to press the symbol key3 times for the emoticons option to come up, this company sounds like they only have a patent on a special emoticons key, and pressing a button 3 times to get the emoticons to come up does not seem to fit their patent claim.

Also I can't remember much from my parents litigation class, but I'm pretty sure that allowing a company to freely use your patent for 5 years can mean you consented to their using it, I don't think they will have a valid damages claim either. (could be wrong on this though but I would still use it as an argument lol)

I'm thinking these guys are just looking for rim to settle so that they can make a quick buck. RIM should let this play out in court, then sue them for defamation/slander, or better yet rim should just buy this company and that way they own the patent lol