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Patents Microsoft

Microsoft Frowned at for Smiley Patent 369

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the stranger-than-fiction dept.
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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Microsoft Frowned at for Smiley Patent

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  • Uhoh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Drathus (152223) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:17AM (#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)
    • That's quite funny, but even M$ would never... oh, wait!
    • Re:Uhoh (Score:3, Informative)

      by dourk (60585)
      I think Despair, Inc. [yahoo.com] got there first [yahoo.com].
  • by aendeuryu (844048) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:17AM (#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]
  • by Anonymous Writer (746272) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:17AM (#13143529)
    about this is :P
    • No no.... you didn't properly violate the patent. You need:
      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.

      Note that if you happen to use a 19x19 group of pixels it not only violates the primary patent but claims 2 and 3 as well (and maybe others). I will select a 19x19 emoticon and a 2 character sequence and I will transmit
  • by 1010011010 (53039) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:18AM (#13143530) Homepage
    Microsoft must actually want for us to hate them. Protected video path, lies and litigation about Linux, patenting fucking smilies.

    Stop it, Bill!
    • by someonewhois (808065) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:20AM (#13143542) Homepage
      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.
      • by Tim C (15259) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:25AM (#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?
        • yes it's a dumb patent, but is that MS's fault, or the patent office's?

          Both.
        • by MikeURL (890801) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:54AM (#13143911) Journal
          If you were some overworked patent clerk facing an ARMY of well-paid, well-funded and determined MS lawyers are you so sure you'd be able to stand up to them?
        • by tolkienfan (892463) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:58AM (#13143930) Journal
          1. If it's likely to make money for Microsoft, they'll sue. The only reason they won't sue it if it would probably fail in the courtroom.
          2. What this does mean is that someone wishing to create an instant messenger with custom smilies is in for trouble. No lawyer is going to advise possible infringement.
          3. So with this Microsoft may be differentiating their products, making it impossible for other products to have the same feature.
          4. Worse, there is no legal requirements (IIRC) on licensing. In other words, although the patent system was instigates to promote publishing ideas in such a way that more companies implemented them, there is no requirement for the patent holder to actually allow it (with or without a fee).
          5. Is it MS's fault or the patent office's?
          Abusing a broken system is immoral and unethical. Microsoft have shown themselves to be both, which is why I will never buy or recommend their products.
          • by Locutus (9039) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:13AM (#13144269)
            1. If it's likely to make money for Microsoft, they'll sue. The only reason they won't sue it if it would probably fail in the courtroom.

            Microsoft already makes tons of money off the Windows monopoly and that is what all of their actions are about. Since the early 1990's, Microsoft is more worried about protecting their monopoly than expanding in other areas. Expansion is secondary IMO. They spend a couple of $billion per year on losing markets outside the desktop/server but THAT is more about keeping budding technologies/companies from getting too much power and marketshare in the PC periphery sectors. Look at their recent earnings report. ~30% from MS Windows, ~30% from MS Office for Windows, ~20% from MS Windows Server/software, and until last year, EVERYTHING else was losing hundreds of millions each year. MSN advertising brought MSN into the black finally( popup ads maybe? ). Also, failing in the courtroom is not a big concern for MSFT since they'll be using much of this stuff as threats. It only has to LOOK like it has teeth in order to work as they intend it to. With $40 Billion in CASH, they can sue til the cows some home and not make a dent in that cash horde.

            IMO, the current IP patent land grab is about protecting the Windows monopoly and very little about making money from new sectors or business markets. Never have I seen Microsoft support a none-Windows based product having over 50% marketshare. Even when Palm had 80% marketshare, every dbase vendor had a PalmOS based micro-dbase except MSFT. They came out with MS Access for WindowsCE when that only had 5% marketshare. The key to understanding Microsofts actions is to know their motivations and that is protecting the Windows monopoly. THAT is their business.

            Everything else you wrote is right on target.

            LoB
        • It's the question of the dumb patents. The fact that these things have been in computing environments for tens of years and yet this is suddenly somehting they decide to patent.

          That says that they look for things that aren't patented and patent them as a money-grab. Contrast that to how patents should be: coming up with a genius idea after years od development and protecting your investment.

          It's not a genius idea, they didn't come up with it, and it's stupid to patent. In the same way that RollerBlade
        • Besides which, yes it's a dumb patent, but is that MS's fault, or the patent office's?

          Uh, MS took action, so yes it's their fault.

          When the WTC was hit, was it America's fault or the terrorist's fault?
        • MS, on the other hand, has not (to my knowledge) used a single patent offensively.

          Here you go: Microsoft patents ASF media file format, stops reverse engineering [advogato.org].

          Microsoft is also demanding that people buy licenses to use their FAT file system: Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]
      • 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).
      • by 1010011010 (53039) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:33AM (#13143598) Homepage
        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?

        • He wasnt threatening, he was commenting that there were, according to their sources and experts, over 200 patent violations in Linux and that someday, with more countries entering the WTO, people would most probably come looking for the money associated with those patents. It might not be the current holders, the patent might have been sold on. At no point did he threaten.
          • And shopkeepers pay the mafia protection money "so that no trouble should happen to come upon their store". But that's fine, because at no point was the shopkeeper ever directly threatened.

            In the real world, people do connect the dots and interpret an indirect threat.
      • by meburke (736645) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:46AM (#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!)
      • by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:47AM (#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."

        • 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?

          From The Little Prince, 1943, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince's conversation with a businessman who claimed to own the stars - emph. added):

          "How is it possible for one to own the stars?"

          "To whom do they belong?" the businessman retorted, peevishly.

          "I don't know. To nobody."

          "Then they belong to me, because I was the first pers
      • gosh and all this time i thought patenting something was actually supposed to be done to something you invented and not something you do when you see the creator was "too stupid" to patent it him/herself..
      • Uh, defensive patents are a common thing in all industries.

        however, I do believe there's prior art, here. Perhaps the patent is invalid!

        Adium [adiumx.com] instant messenger for OSX has smiley plugins where you can design new smilies (ie: make +<:-) into a pope smiley) and use them in your IMs.

        They've had that in there for quite some time... at least a year or 2. maybe longer? I never used theplugin system, as there haven't been anything I liked created and I like the defaults just fine.

        People just enjoy jumpin
  • by v_1_r_u_5 (462399) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:19AM (#13143534)
    Well, they can kiss my ( | ).
  • I predict that the frowney face will be widely used in Microsoft today
  • by rylin (688457) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:21AM (#13143548)
    .,|,, -_- ,,|,.


    Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
    Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art.
  • by mediumcool (869201) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:22AM (#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
  • 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.

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

    Ah, never mind...
    • I, for one, welcome our new smiley [microsoft.com] overlords. (prior art?)
    • Re:Prior art? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rajafarian (49150) *
      ... a creation of the Almighty?

      No, "the Almighty" is a creation of man.

      Ok, here's how I think it happened:
      Big guy got all the chicks because he could provide and defend them. Little guy invented "the Almighty" (and the idea of priests) so he could instill fear in the big guy and be able to get some chicks, too.

      • by Urchlay (518024)
        Big guy got all the chicks because he could provide and defend them. Little guy invented "the Almighty" (and the idea of priests) so he could instill fear in the big guy and be able to get some chicks, too.

        Big guy retaliates by enforcing celibacy on little guys who become priests, so they can't get any chicks?

  • by tsa (15680) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:30AM (#13143588) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:36AM (#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.
    • 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

    • exclusive laws and mutually inclusive patents that it no longer matters.

      At some point in the commission of *any* act, you are either infringing (and somebody gets something unearned) or breaking a law (and somebody gets a cease and desist to stop you.)

      At times like these, when only the criminal don't have to watch their steps, people head for the hills and watch in awe as civilization collapses into a festering dung heap.

    • IANAL and I don't know the inner workings of MSN messenger but if this is the method they've been using for years then this patent shouldn't be issued. If the patent office doesn't throw this one right out the door then it's more messed up than I previously imagined.

      from the USPTO [uspto.gov]:

      an invention cannot be patented if: *SNIP* "(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the applic

  • 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.

  • by ExtraT (704420) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:41AM (#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.
  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:41AM (#13143631) Homepage Journal
    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

    • 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.
    • 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.)
    • 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.
      • Oh, you're completely right. Here I though they had just patented something that would be obvious to anyone with some experience in programming.

        When you add the word "arbitary" the situation changes completely. Using such innovative techniques as customizeable font sets, transfer of image files over a network and using a file cache.
    • 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 pl
  • See? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:45AM (#13143645)
    Microsoft DOES innovate! No one thought of patenting smilies before them!
  • 2 things: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dreemernj (859414)
    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.
  • 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!

  • Prior Art: ligatures (Score:5, Informative)

    by cait56 (677299) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:55AM (#13143682) Homepage

    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').

  • 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...
  • by slashflood (697891) <{flow} {at} {howflow.com}> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:05AM (#13143722) Homepage Journal

    :-d

    Look, I can lick my nose!
  • 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.
  • 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
  • by mrRay720 (874710) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:08AM (#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"
    • The patent covers digitizing of images, at some point they are static, from perception through transmission to their reconstitution.

      Can anybody say 'Microsoft now has a patent on video conferencing.'
  • 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.
  • WHile not a patent, despair.com owns the trademark on :-( [despair.com]. Luckilly, you can buy them from despair.com to use in your emails...:-P
  • In it, the Almighty spoke to me and said:

    "This is God, and I have already patented every thought you have ever thought, or ever will think
    - and I've got one hell of a lawyer!"
  • How can they do this with a 8^| , I mean, a straight face? ;) I think they have definitely jumped teh shark [wikipedia.org] with this stunt.
  • '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.'"

    So where's he been living for the last 5 years?
  • Isn't it time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @01:38PM (#13145003) Journal
    That we, as a community ( not just /., but the community of computer users worldwide) begin writing letters and emails to our elected representatives, and to the USPTO et al with regard to how we feel that such blantantly obvious things cannot and should not be patented. If the govt. doesn't understand this, perhaps 255,000 emails will explain it to them? Anything with enough prior art to establish that this is not an innovation, is not unique, nor is it unobvious may not be obvious to the USPTO. Does anyone know where we can write the USPTO to let them know?
  • by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel@NOspam.hotmail.com> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @02:06PM (#13145141) Homepage Journal
    Well, golly, its nice Microsoft has this patent and all...

    But, again, they can't defend it.

    Vioations: any image 19x19 or otherwise, is converted to characters when being transferred by email. And, the character sequence representing an icon (avatar) has been with us since FACES graced our email. The fact that MS doesn't render FACES is... well, not relevant.

    The next step -- which is replacing a long sequence by a shorter sequence to be filled in by the receiver -- in a nutshell, that is gzip compression. And using pre-computed huffman tables has been with us forever as well.

    The LAST step -- which is to tie this all to "emoticons" used for IM. If you can send pictures via IM (which is NOT something being patented here)... the emoticon is simply an interpretation of the picture.

    Again, I am really happy for Microsoft for getting this patent, but don't sweat it -- they can't (and won't) defend it. May use it to threaten someone, though.

    Ratboy
  • by RedLaggedTeut (216304) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @03:10PM (#13145443) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft Frowned at for Smiley Patent

    Now you frown, till we patent that

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