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Microsoft Frowned at for Smiley Patent

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the stranger-than-fiction dept.

Patents 369

theodp writes "ZDNet UK reports on criticism of Microsoft's attempt to patent the creation of custom emoticons. 'I would have expected to see something like this suggested by one of our more immature community members as a joke on Slashdot,' quipped Mark Taylor of the Open Source Consortium. 'We now appear to be living in a world where even the most laughable paranoid fantasies about commercially controlling simple social concepts are being outdone in the real world by well-funded armies of lawyers on behalf of some of the most powerful companies on the planet.'"

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OMG (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143522)

First post! YAY!

HOWTO: A Muslims guide to Backpacking in London (1, Funny)

The_Fire_Horse (552422) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143523)

We've all seen the shocking bombings in London recently caused by extremist muslims who, quite frankly have nothing better to do with thier time.

But what about the 'normal' muslims, I hear you cry - how can they go about our lives in this post 7-7 world?

Hi, I'm The_Fire_Horse [slashdot.org] and you might remember me from such posts as
Cheese - what does it mean to the average Muslim, and
Islam - what *is* the point? I mean... really!

Today, we are going to discuss how the average bright eyed, yet naive mulsim can go about their lives following the devastating and shocking bomb attacks on London.

Step 1 - Dont be ashamed
You are a muslim - you have chosen your religeon freely because you parents told you to and despite nagging doubts in the back of your head that it is all a bit 'silly', you will continue to follow whatever interpretation of the koran anyone happens to talk about. Dont feel dumb - it isnt your fault - remember, that you have millions of others thinking just the same way, so you must be right!

Step 2 - Pack up your camping gear
You are going out to the country, so you will need lots of supplies! Get yourself a nice big backpack and fill it will pots, pans, food, clothes and spare copies of the koran because you will be out in the wilderness for several days.

Step 3 - Heading for the train
The train trip will take a while, so you will want to listen to some 'koran on tape' cassettes - put your walkman in your rucksack and feed the headphone wires out the top so you have access to the music.
OK, IT'S TIME TO GO!!!
With your headphones hanging out of your rucksack and your teatowel wrapped around your head, you can now proudly walk out the door of your hovel to the nearest train station to head off to your camping trip.

Step 4 - Dealing with the Police
If the police take an interest in you, simply screech "ALLAH BE PRAISED" and reach for your headphones so that you can let them hear the magical insight of the 'koran on tape'.
Should the police then reach for their guns, you will need to quickly remove your student id from your inside jacket pocket and show it to them. Dont worry - everything will sort itself out (Allah will know what to do)

Re:HOWTO: A Muslims guide to Backpacking in London (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143565)

hahaha.
You sir, are my hero.

Re:HOWTO: A Muslims guide to Backpacking in London (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143694)

I roffled heartily - you, sir, certainly do have the knack of generating rors!

Uhoh (5, Funny)

Drathus (152223) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143526)

I can see it now:

=( (r)

* Disclaimer: "=(" is a registered Trademark of Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, WA. Used without permission.

(Please don't sue)

Re:Uhoh (1)

takeya (825259) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143639)

Does their Japanese division claim ownership of ^_^, -_- and >_> ??

'Cause I use those sometimes >_>

Re:Uhoh (1)

PakProtector (115173) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143727)

Don't you mean their Korean division?

Re:Uhoh (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143661)

The patent in question isn't quite as general as you may believe. It is quite clearly a patent on the exact method MSN Messenger uses to display custom graphical emoticons - amongst other things the patent specifies a 19x19 pixel grid (claim 2), a PNG file (claim 7) and the web browser cache (claim 18).

So don't worry, you can all chill out and go back to watching downloading Star Trek on your Linux box or whatever you do between Slashdot stories.

Re:Uhoh (1, Insightful)

Xabraxas (654195) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143704)

You don't think that is generic? So now I can't make a png file that is 19x19 and use it as an emoticon?

Re:Uhoh (1)

Alkarismi (48631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143671)

That's quite funny, but even M$ would never... oh, wait!

Re:Uhoh (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143755)

I can see it now:

=( (r)
Watch out!
They've applied for patents on "(r)" and "(c)".

immature community members? (5, Funny)

aendeuryu (844048) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143527)

'I would have expected to see something like this suggested by one of our more immature community members as a joke on Slashdot,'

I don't know. These days it seems like the editors don't comment as much as they used to...

[rimshot]

All I have to say... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Writer (746272) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143529)

about this is :P

Re:All I have to say... (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143557)

A colon and a 'p'. I bet that's all the patent office had to say too.

They want for us to hate them, it must be (4, Interesting)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143530)

Microsoft must actually want for us to hate them. Protected video path, lies and litigation about Linux, patenting fucking smilies.

Stop it, Bill!

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (4, Insightful)

someonewhois (808065) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143542)

Uh, defensive patents are a common thing in all industries. People just enjoy jumping down Microsoft's throat because they have nothing better to do.

Having the patent doesn't mean they're going to go sue AOL, Yahoo, etc. if their messengers have custom emoticons. Clue in, guys.

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (3, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143563)

Indeed. IBM registers a couple of thousand of patents each year, and in the (relatively distant) past has been just as evil as MS is percieved to be today. MS, on the other hand, has not (to my knowledge) used a single patent offensively.

Besides which, yes it's a dumb patent, but is that MS's fault, or the patent office's? If I ask you for a thousand dollars and you give it to me, thus ending up unable to pay bills, isn't that your fault for being stupid enough to do it?

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (2, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143620)

yes it's a dumb patent, but is that MS's fault, or the patent office's?

Both.

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (1)

Whafro (193881) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143595)

why doesn't it mean they're going to sue AOL, Yahoo, etc? I mean, it's not as if MS invented smilies, and it's not as if people weren't making variations on smilies well before MSN/Windows Messenger existed.

I remember using smilies as early as 1990 (could have been earlier).

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143624)

I remember back in 1987 using smilies/emoticons on BBS. No doubt they were certainly used before then as I was showed them by a crusty old BBS admin.

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (4, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143598)

Microsoft (Ballmer specifically -- you know the CEO guy) has been threatening Linux with "over 200 patent violations".

Why mention that at all, except if on the offensive?

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143628)

Defensive patents are justifiable under the currently liberal patent office? Better check those lobbyists and donations again, I guess.

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (4, Insightful)

meburke (736645) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143649)

BAD thinking! There is no reason to establish rights over something unless you intend to exercise those rights. Even just the threat of enforcing those rights, legitimate or not, is an obstacle to competition or individual initiative, and in this case, it coerces people into MS-sanctioned behavior.

In some countries, like Japan for instance, the loser in a lawsuit has to compensate the winner for their expenses and may be assessed a fine. Some judges here in the US require a bond be placed to protect parties from frivolous lawsuits. IMO, the next needed steps in patent reform are, first, fines for filing frivolous patents, and second, clearer criteria for what is and is not patentable. These criteria need to be so clearly written that even government employees can determine if a patent application has merit.

A third reform step is to eliminate the limits on the time a patent can be challenged and overturned. For instance, if no one challenges a patent within two years, the patent holder can benefit from the de facto protection of the patent without recourse, until such time as that protection was determined to be erroneously granted and the patent overturned. My thinking is that a person erroneously granted patent rights should not be granted full patent protection just because someone didn't notice it within the challenge period. I wonder how many thousands of people are unproductively tied up spending anxious hours perusing published patent apps to protect themselves from trivial patent abuse.

Which brings me to the fourth reform: Patent apps need to be screenable by computer. (I wonder who is going to get the patent on that!)

Re:They want for us to hate them, it must be (4, Interesting)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143653)

Uh, defensive patents are a common thing in all industries. People just enjoy jumping down Microsoft's throat because they have nothing better to do.

No, people just don't like a company -- any company -- get a patent on something which (a) the company did not invent, (b) already existed more than a decade ago, (c) is really really obvious, (d) is in common use by nearly every computer user today.

It's like Microsoft said: "Hey, nobody got the idea to patent smileys yet! And everything should be patented by SOMEBODY! I mean, we can't have any concept not OWNED by someone, can we? So let's see if the patent office is stupid enough to grant us exclusive rights to something that is currently in the public domain! We can see what we do with such a patent later."

they want to patent emoticons, eh? (5, Funny)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143534)

Well, they can kiss my ( | ).

Goatse version (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143585)

(=O=)

Re:they want to patent emoticons, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143587)

They can kiss MY (*). Yours appears to be a bit stretched, however. You might want to get that checked out.

Re:they want to patent emoticons, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143629)

(_|_) or (_._) or (_o_) or (_O_)

Instant Messengers.... (2, Funny)

fudg3tunn3l (883722) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143538)

Owned! oh well i hate smileys anyway, damn nuisance things.... Bill Gates can eat my =========8

Oops :( (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143544)

I predict that the frowney face will be widely used in Microsoft today

Re:Oops :( (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143581)

M:(rosoft?

Patent THIS! (5, Funny)

rylin (688457) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143548)

.,|,, -_- ,,|,.


Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art.

Re:Patent THIS! (1)

rylin (688457) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143561)

To whoever modded this redundant,
.,|,, -_- ,,|,.


Sincerely, A victim of a crackhead-moderator-maffia

while you were all posting, i patented these :) (5, Funny)

mediumcool (869201) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143551)

!-( Black eye !-) Proud of black eye #-) Wiped out, partied all night #:-o Shocked $-) Won the lottery, or money on the brain %(|:-) Propeller-head %*} Inebriated %+{ Got beat up %-( Confused %-) Dazed or silly %-6 Brain-dead %-\ Hung over %-{ Ironic %-| Worked all night %-} Humorous or ironic %\ Hangover >>:-- Female >-> Winking devil >--) Devilish wink >:) Little devil >:-> Very mischievous devil >:-:-:-( Annoyed >:-) Mischievous devil >=^ P Yuck Devilish expression Devilish expression .. ) alienated (( )):** Hugs and kisses ((())) Lots of hugging (initials or a name can be put in the middle of the one being hugged) () Hugging (-: Left-handed smile, or smiley from the southern hemisphere (:& Angry (:- Unsmiley (:-& Angry (:-( Unsmiley (:-) Smiley variation (:-* Kiss (:-\ Very sad (::()::) Bandaid, meaning comfort (:| Egghead * Kiss *--->--- A dozen roses 2B|^2B To be or not to be 5:-) Elvis 7:) Ronald Reagan 7:^) Ronald Reagan 8 Infinity 8 :-) Wizard 8) Wide-eyed, or wearing glasses 8-# Death 8-) Wide-eyed, or wearing glasses 8-o Shocked 8-O Astonished 8-P Yuck! 8-[ Frayed nerves; overwrought 8-] Wow! 8-| Wide-eyed surprise : ( Sad : ) Smile : [ Bored, sad : | Bored, sad :( ) Loudmouth, talks all the time; or shouting :* Kiss :*) Clowning :**: Returning kiss :+( Got punched in the nose :,( Crying :- Male :-# My lips are sealed; or someone wearing braces :-& Tongue-tied :-> Smile of happiness or sarcasm :-> Puckered up to kiss :- Very sad :-( Frown :-) Classic smiley :-* Kiss :-, Smirk :-/ Wry face :-6 Exhausted :-9 Licking lips :-? Licking lips, or tongue in cheek :-@ Screaming :-C Astonished :-c Very unhappy :-D Laughing :-d~ Heavy smoker :-e Disappointed :-f Sticking out tongue :-I Pondering, or impartial :-i Wry smile or half-smile :-J Tongue in cheek :-j One-sided smile :-k Puzzlement :-l One-sided smile :-M Speak no evil :-O Open-mouthed, surprised :-o Surprised look, or yawn

Re:while you were all posting, i patented these :) (5, Funny)

Markus Landgren (50350) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143660)

You forgot one: XP

Or did Microsoft beat you to it?

Prior ASCII Art??? (1)

drunkahol (143049) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143559)

Is there not enough prior art with the old ASCII smileys which could be customised to the users whim?

I don't remember them all now, but two that always made me smile (in that slightly juvenille undergrad way) were

8- Boy smiley
>- Girl smiley

I'm pretty sure the list was huge as you had a certain amount of customisation by adding different characters.

Surely graphical smileys are just an extension of this and not a demonstrable leap to justify a patent?

Re:Prior ASCII Art??? (4, Funny)

rylin (688457) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143580)

I dunno.. I always think of the 8 as being boobs.

;)>8-<
;)>-`<

Re:Prior ASCII Art??? (4, Informative)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143696)

No, there are boobs.. (.)(.) for knee knockers
then you have (*)(*) for pert, firm pointers
or you have (o)(o) and if you like them bigger, (O)(O)
and of course there's (0)(0) or if you frequent tiddy bars these might look familiar ($)($)
( O )( O ) and if you like them extra large..

Re:Prior ASCII Art??? (2, Interesting)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143712)

( o | o ) Oh yeah, I almost forgot, CLEAVAGE!!

Re:Prior ASCII Art??? (1)

Adelbert (873575) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143621)

Surely graphical smileys are just an extension of this and not a demonstrable leap to justify a patent?

I thought putting "Copyright (c) 1996-2005 Microsoft Corporation" was a demonstrable leap that justified a patent.

First Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143560)

First Post!
GNAA

Despair.com (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143566)

Remember their press release announcing a trademark on the frowning face and that they'd be licensing it?

It was a joke, but a brilliant one - check out their site; their "demotivation" slogans and posters are classic.

One of my favorites:

Meetings - None of us are as dumb as all of us.

(Could be the /. motto)

Of course, as an AFU'r, I do believe emoticons are for those who lack the skills to express themselves with words and the intelligence to understand what others have written.

Re:Despair.com (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143638)

Of course, as an AFU'r, I do believe emoticons are for those who lack the skills to express themselves with words and the intelligence to understand what others have written.

:-(

Re:Despair.com (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143676)

I do believe emoticons are for those who lack the skills to express themselves with words and the intelligence to understand what others have written.

And I do believe you're one the kind who like to talk too much.

Re:Despair.com (1)

Ann Elk (668880) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143679)

Meetings - None of us are as dumb as all of us.
(Could be the /. motto)

Or Microsoft's...

Re:Despair.com (1)

catdriver (885089) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143714)

Remember their press release announcing a trademark on the frowning face and that they'd be licensing it?

http://www.despair.com/frownies.html [despair.com]

Prior art? (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143567)


Wan't the face... any face, smiley, frown or otherwise... a creation of the Almighty?

Ah, never mind...

What came first: Emoticons or Microsoft? (1)

vonoech (605198) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143573)

It seems that while someone patent something that already exists; that patent claim could be challenged by someone who has any sort of proof that they had the idea first.

I have to think that there will be challenges to this.

Re:What came first: Emoticons or Microsoft? (2, Insightful)

Cromac (610264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143705)

I have to think that there will be challenges to this.

I'm sure there will be many, probably thousands or tens of thousands, who will want to challenge it but who is going to pay for the challenge? As we know MS has more than enough cash to hire as many lawyers as it takes to defend their patents, it will take other lawyers ($$$) to challenge it.

U+2639 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143584)

We'll have to make do with ASCII art, or ask the Unicode Consortium to include a few more emoticons...

Being a lwayer (2, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143588)

Lawyers live in an alien world. They make a great fuss about many things `normal' people (as far as they exist) will never even think about, let alone worry about, and they get paid enormous amounts of money for it too. They must be even more `out of this world' than your regular scientist.

Re:Being a lwayer (1)

someone300 (891284) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143644)

Lawyers live in an alien world. They make a great fuss about many things `normal' people (as far as they exist) will never even think about, let alone worry about

So do geeks ;)

It's a patent application, not a patent (2, Insightful)

phage434 (824439) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143594)

Note that this is an *application* not an issued patent. While I have no trust of the existing patent examination process, we should at least give them the opportunity to examine and reject this before getting too upset. Not that this excuses Microsoft for wasting all of our time (or worse) by filing it.

Unknowning patent infringement (1)

lightyear4 (852813) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143597)

What do such patents entail for the rest of us? Patents used to be filed for innovation, not retroactively to capture something already long established. Of late, it seems entirely possible to unknowingly infringe upon a patented concept, device, or process. Incidents such as this one (and there are many) seem to undoubtedly violate the non-obvious requirement for issuing a patent.

And my opinion is... (1)

fraxinus-tree (717851) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143600)

8===>
(very common in local comunities)

Re:And my opinion is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143709)

People in your community have dicks shaped like spades? I guess they don't have many kids.

Immature community members (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143607)

As if businesses weren't members of the community.

Rich pickings! (1)

gunpowda (825571) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143609)

There's lots of fresh plunder [colondee.com] for them, if they want it.

Unusually specific, but still dangerous (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143612)

That patent is actually very specific. It covers exactly the way MSN Messenger (both the protocol and the client) work, and nothing more. It doesn't try to patent the concept, but a specific implementation of it. For example, if you use a 20x20 pixel image instead of 19x19 pixels, or transmit the image as something other than a PNG, or store them somewhere other than a web browser's disk cache, it doesn't apply.

It's still quite dangerous though. I don't think that any other IM client that implements MSN's custom emoticons would infringe it, because none of them use a web browser cache to store images. Every other claim is pretty much required to interoperate with Microsoft's client. So if you implemented a full MSN client as an extension to Firefox, for example, it almost certainly would infringe on this patent. Or if your operating system had some unified cache for storing any downloaded content that is used by both the web browser and IM client.

I certainly wouldn't consider it patentable. It's hardly complex, innovative, or non-obvious.

A good indicator is that the patent application probably took them far longer to write than it took to design and implement the thing in software.

Re:Unusually specific, but still dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143675)

Who ever told you you knew how to read a patent? Why would you say it's limited to 19x19 pixels? That's a dependent claim. If someone makes a 20x20 pixel implementation, they'd probably still infringe the independent claim.

Slashdot is such a joke. What passes for knowledge here is sad...

Re:Unusually specific, but still dangerous (1)

shadowcode (852856) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143706)

I think that you're right. It's not as if they're trying to patent smileys themselves, which is what half of the slashdot community here seems to be thinking.

Re:Unusually specific, but still dangerous (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143754)

That patent is actually very specific. It covers exactly the way MSN Messenger (both the protocol and the client) work, and nothing more. It doesn't try to patent the concept, but a specific implementation of it. For example, if you use a 20x20 pixel image instead of 19x19 pixels, or transmit the image as something other than a PNG, or store them somewhere other than a web browser's disk cache, it doesn't apply.

So, they've patented an image size implemented in an open graphical standard and tied it into fundamental browser technologies and called it a novel invention?

Indeed. I'm going to patent using 10pt font in a wordprocessor document which has letter-size page layouts. I should be rich. (I'll charge openoffice.org a nickle and apple $20 bucks for it, everyone else can pay me millions.)

Something like this... (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143613)

I would have expected to see something like this suggested by one of our more immature community members as a joke on Slashdot

OMFG imagine if M$ patent3d teh emot1c0n5!!! th4t wud so SUXXORRZZZ SO B4D!!111!! LOLZZZ WHAT wa5 1 THinKING!!! M$ wudnt do that because that would p1ss of everybuddy and their AOL BUDDIE5 SO B4D!!!

Oh they really did? Never mind.

Re:Something like this... (1)

Alkarismi (48631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143728)

weirdly, that is almost exactly identical to the first draft of the text of the patent application in question...

While you were all posting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143617)

I visited the USPTO and got me a patent on A big red clad fellow called Santa... KATSCHING!!!!

Schweeeeeet!

In the Uzbek... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143625)

In the Uzbek, if such company is trying steal idea from average peasant, we have easy solutions - we are tying minister of company to donkey drag to next village. Fat pig amerikans are tame too much for such exercise, but is always fruitful.

It's not that simple. (5, Informative)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143630)

Have you people read the actual patent description? It doesn't talk about patenting smileys, but only the method of creating custom smileys and addigning bitmaps to them. Basically, they are trying to patent a universal bitmap smiley distribution protocol.

It's not ASCII :-) it's the image version (4, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143631)

All the other posters in the thread seem not to have read the application [uspto.gov] :

"Methods and devices for creating and transferring custom emoticons allow a user to adopt an arbitrary image as an emoticon, which can then be represented by a character sequence in real-time communication. In one implementation, custom emoticons can be included in a message and transmitted to a receiver in the message. In another implementation, character sequences representing the custom emoticons can be transmitted in the message instead of the custom emoticons in order to preserve performance of text messaging. At the receiving end, the character sequences are replaced by their corresponding custom emoticons, which can be retrieved locally if they have been previously received, or can be retrieved from the sender in a separate communication from the text message if they have not been previously received."

The patent is not for smilies.

It is for having both ends having pre-set images displayed for certain character sequences in text mesages, be they :-) or pwn3df46607

Re:It's not ASCII :-) it's the image version (1)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143650)

It is for having both ends having pre-set images displayed for certain character sequences in text mesages, be they :-) or pwn3df46607

They shouldn't have a patent for that either. It's damned trivial and IM clients have been doing it for awhile.

Re:It's not ASCII :-) it's the image version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143669)

That still doesn't make it any less infuriating. Many applications already do this.

"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. "

Let's take the IRC client I use for example. If I press ctrl+l:S, whoever's got the same client as me will see a sad face - a graphical emoticon (PNG). Similiarly, if I press ctrl+lbomb, the image of a bomb will come up.

As far as I can see, it coveres all of:
"2. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the pixels comprise a pixel array of pre-determined dimensions."

"3. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the pixels comprise a 19.times.19 pixel grid."

"4. The method as recited in claim 1, wherein the character sequence allows real-time mapping to the pixels."

and "7. The method as recited in claim 6, wherein the data comprises a portable network graphics file. "

....oh my precious IRC client, thankfully this is just a patient application.

Re:It's not ASCII :-) it's the image version (1)

meburke (736645) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143710)

I read the application first and, listen up, Dude: This is how computers work! (But, since no one studies anything but Java in CS courses anymore, I guess it's not that obvious.)

No, that's not right either (1)

mrRay720 (874710) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143713)

A lot of people are reading this wrong. They've probably skimmed over the text and read "MS.... patent... emoticon..." and jumped to incorrect conclusions.

As it says, it is for CUSTOM emoticons, ie an arbitary emoticon on Client1 being encoded, transferred, and reassembled, installed, and displayed on Client2.

Now I don't agree with this patent application either, but IF you're going to attack MS here, at least attack them for the right thing. Bitching at them for trying to patent emoticons is just wrong.

Re:It's not ASCII :-) it's the image version (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143726)

Isn't this sort of how the whole web works?

An image isn't embedded directly in the webpage, the html just includes a specific text reference to it. Then your browser goes and finds the image, and displays it instead of the text. Sure, the image might be on a server, instead of saved locally in a directory somewhere, but it's basically the same.

Don't most online video games do this? When I move my guy around in battlefield, my cable modem isn't sending video clips of my character animations to the other players. It's sending boring ol' data, which the server and then the other clients eventually turn into images by using local resources. Find a simpler, tile-based game, and then they're using pre-set images. I remember doing this over email a decade ago.

And yeah, IM clients have been doing this specifically with smilies for a while.

Re:It's not ASCII :-) it's the image version (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143731)

Hello Microsoft, 1995 called, my web-chat program has been doing similar things since then.

XP? (1)

sim82 (836928) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143632)

Maybe it's because 'XP'(r) looks like a smiley chocking on something really disgusting.

Here's my reaction... (1)

chriswaclawik (859112) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143635)

(_:-(|)
D'OH!!!!

Re:Here's my reaction... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143657)

~(_8^(|)

Patent Application for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143640)

the change from :) to the stupid graphic, 19pixels by 19pixels, that show a image of that text :).

I am NOT defending M$ here but trying to say that what they are attempting is to patent when you are wacking (slashdot crowd giggles) the keys and type an emoticon, low and behold a little smiley graphic comes out instead of the text! NOT the actual emoticon itself.

OMG... Did M$ come up with that!?

Bah.

Still sucks.

See? (3, Funny)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143645)

Microsoft DOES innovate! No one thought of patenting smilies before them!

2 things: (2, Interesting)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143670)

1. Does this mean that users of the ASCII smiley will retroactively owe M$ a chunk of their soul? 2. Doesn't the creator of the 'Have a Nice Day' smiley have anything to say about this? I mean he invented the business of making money off of smileys...Unless he has already been hired by M$. Hmmmm, that could be. If they went after the pet rock inventor next it could be a problem. MS logos on pavers and skipping stones. Hmmm.

OMG! Well, it was just a matter of time really.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143673)

OFF-TOPIC ... but a sign of the times no less ...

I just got a pop-up whilst visiting slashdot. I wouldn't make this stuff up folks. I'm using firefox - I got that bar up at the top of the viewport saying 'a popup has been blocked' after following the "Read More..." link.

Did anyone else get the same thing?

What a bunch of fscking sell-outs!

PS: AND the "confirm you're not a script" reads "threaten" ... a long-shot, maybe I'm being too paranoid, but now I'm thinking slashdot might be getting phished. Apologies for the sell-out remark if that's the case.

may i be the first to say..... (1)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143680)

:)

*sound of a thousand lawyers approaching my frot door*

yeah, but (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143681)

Have they patented the Business method of creating a bunch of (sometimes trivial) patents and tehn using them to litigate an opponent (where the opponent is a (possibly proper) subset of the Open source community) into oblivion?

oops.

Someone patent that quick. I don't have the money to do so!

Re:yeah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143735)

But.. you can't patent a criminal procedure

Prior Art: ligatures (4, Informative)

cait56 (677299) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143682)

Typesetting already has well established prior art of having a special optimized representation for a sequence of characters.

It's called a ligature. "To" is an example of a sequence that is frequently optimized with an alternate image (that moves the 'o' closer to the 'T').

Prior Art acknowledged in patent (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143724)

From the patent
TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The subject matter relates generally to instant messaging and more specifically to custom emoticons.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Emoticons have acquired immense popularity and hence importance in new email, chatroom, instant messaging, and even operating system applications. The variety of available emoticons has increased tremendously, from a few types of "happy faces" to a multitude of elaborate and colorful animations. In many cases, an increase in the number of available emoticons has been a selling feature for new releases of communications products. However, there are now so many emoticons available that some applications may be reaching a limit on the number of pre-established ("pre-packaged") emoticons that can be included with or managed by an application. There is an exhaustion point for trying to provide a pre-packaged emoticon for every human emotion. Still, users clamor for more emoticons, and especially for more nuanced emoticons that capture the subtleties of human emotions and situations.

The patent itself has some information of the background; does that not in itself supply EVIDENCE OF PRIOR ART?

From the Patent (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143683)

Sorry if this dupes. But this is part of the patent explaining smilies in IMS. Odd how they are concerned about the "custom smiley". [0019] Many real-time messaging applications aim to minimize data for transmission. An instant message or chatroom communique that contains very streamlined data is referred to herein as a "lean" message. To include one or more custom emoticons in a lean message would degrade the performance of many instant messaging or chatroom applications. Thus, the subject matter also includes exemplary techniques for sending a lean message to a receiver wherein one or more custom emoticons appear in the lean message at the receiver's end.

Er, won't this create a weird time paradox... (1)

Alkarismi (48631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143695)

or something?

On the other hand maybe *I* can be the immature community member making the joke, and perhaps that way M$ will put out all their smileys under GPL...

Everybody calm down (1)

EachLennyAPenny (731871) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143697)

it only affects 19x19 pixels emoticons.

/me heading to patent the 20x20 pixel emoticons since he thinks they will be the Next Big Thing (tm).

Psuedononymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143699)


This has all happened before [slashdot.org] and it will all happen again.

Custom Smiley (3, Funny)

slashflood (697891) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143722)


:-d

Look, I can lick my nose!

"slashdot" owned (1)

flibuste (523578) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143729)

Greetings Slashdot. I write to you to inform you that I have filed a patent (REF: TOTAL-NONSENSE-54345-ID-4234) regarding the "slashdot" sequence of letters (or keystrokes). As such, I offer to enter in agreement with you where each time this sequence is used (particularly on the web, but other instances may apply), I get PROFIT. A lot of it, if possible. Thank you for your understanding and attention. The Retarded Corporation.

Unbelievable ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143733)

Smileys have been in use as simple text glyphs since before most people had even heard of the intraweb.

There are book of smileys [amazon.com] which have been around for years (that one was '97).

Smileys appear in everything from ICQ, to AIM, to almost everything. Word has the annoying habit of turning my typed smileys into graphical ones.

The concept of smileys is so widespread they get used in advertising.

Except for creating a tool which allows you to create smileys, this sounds as if there is absolutely no merit to this type of patant whatsoever.

Blah. Hate Microsoft. Rage rising. Strength increasing. Must smash!

WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG! (3, Informative)

mrRay720 (874710) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143734)

Learn to read, people!

"OMG M$ have patented teh smilies!!!!1" - wrong

The patent APPLICATION is for encoding and transfer of CUSTOM smilies. ie an arbiary image or animation on one computer being transferred to another one automatically in a seamless manner via encoing, transmisson, reconstruction.

Not to say that this application is good - it's not. Just that 99% of people here have it so wrong that it's laughable.

From TFA:
""Thursday, covers selecting pixels to create an emoticon image, assigning a character sequence to these pixels and reconstructing the emoticon after transmission.""

*Note the key words such as CREATE and RECONSTRUCTING.

*Note the lack of the words "changing :) into a picture"

ASSHATS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143737)

What a bunch of asshats.
I've used smilies for years, before bill gates got lucky.
I'm glad I don't use his substandard shiat.

I just don't get this crap... (1)

Doverite (720459) | more than 9 years ago | (#13143742)

I mean I just read an article on Robert Heinlein over at Wikipedia about how back in the sixties someone couldn't get a patent on the waterbed because Heinlein had described it in a couple of books. He hadn't even BUILT one.

A new novel patent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143758)

Now here is an idea for a new patent.

A series of methods where by we can have market monopoly, put others out of business, evade the anti-trust laws, get a couple of politicians in your pocket, avoid fair practice acts and extort or give no choice to people to use our product.

It might fail though as Al Copone and others have used this before, but if successful you could sue Microsoft for patent infringement.

Copyright Infringement Notice Notice ID: 43-131844 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13143759)

Dear Sir

We believe you may have been enaging in the illegal use of the following copyrighted emotions, which are the property of GlobalTech MegaCorp Holdings, LLC:

Happiness, Suprise, Bewilderment, Outrage, Despair, & Suicidal Depression.

Please cease and desist all current feelings of the above copyrighted emotions.

Please be advised that this letter is not and is not intended to be a complete statement of the facts or law as they may pertain to this matter or of MegaCorp's positions, rights or remedies, legal or equitable, all of which are specifically reserved.

Very truly yours,

Copyrighted Emotions Department
Internet Anti-Piracy Team
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