Samsung and Research In Motion have been sued in federal court for violating a patent owned by Varia Holdings, LLC. The patent covers an "emoticon input method and apparatus."
The suits were filed separately on March 15th. Both are in U.S. District Court. The Samsung case is in the southern district of New York, while the RIM case is in the district of Delaware. According to the complaints there are numerous devices made by both companies that violate the patent, including the BlackBerry Bold, BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry Storm, Samsung Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, Sidekick 4G, and many others.
The patent deals with a method of inputting emoticons into text by means of a button the user presses to bring up a list of emoticons. The technology is intended to simplify the process of using emoticons in texts, emails, etc.
Varia Holdings is asking for permanent injunctions against both RIM and Samsung, as well as damages to be determined by the court.
The patent in question was granted to Wildseed, which had previously been acquired by AOL, in 2007. Varia Mobile retained ownership of the patent when it spun off of AOL later that year. The relationship between Varia Mobile and Varia Holdings is not clear.
The two complaints are embedded below. They are largely identical, except for specific discussions of the two companies' products and their infringement on the patent.
Should something as broad as emoticon input be eligible for a patent? Is this just another case of patent trolling? Let us know what you think in the comments.[H/T: Ars Technica]