Samsung Sues Apple Over Smiley Face Patents

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Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder after Samsung sued Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) for infringing on the 2001: A Space Odyssey iPad facsimile, here comes something maybe even more bizarre: Samsung is suing Apple in a German court in a dispute about the way Apple produces smiley faces on the iPhone.

Yes, that's correct -- smiley faces.

I would like to interject here that this could be even stranger on its (smiley) face than Dr. Evil's remark in the first Austin Powers movie that his father invented the question mark. I would also like to say that though this could have been -- and probably should have been -- an Onion news story, I did not see it there. I swear.

It is hard to image any one claiming -- without smirking, of course -- a smiley face as any kind of intellectual property, but the Samsung lawyers are indeed saying that Apple has infringed on Samsung's "emoticon input method for mobile terminal."

According to the LA Times, what Samsung is really suing over is what could be considered as a method for creating macros that would produce elaborate emoticons. Apparently, this is something far more popular in Asia than in the United States.

This patent-infringement complaint from Samsung is just one of many it has brought against Apple in courts around the world. Apple, for its part, has been doing the same against Samsung.

Florian Mueller has been assiduously following these patent battles and writes in his blog that the suits can spill over to involve other companies, such as Apple suing Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) and HTC in Germany for alleged patent infringements, and Samsung keeping its options open toward suing Apple regarding the Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) chips in the iPhone 4S.

This is what I think about the whole mess: %No. ^&$No. No. $$%%$$0.

If you don't like it, sue me :-).

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Fool contributor Dan Radovsky has no financial interest in the above-mentioned companies. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2011, at 6:56 PM, theHedgehog wrote:

    This has gone way beyond the "responsible adult" stage. Either the courts or the legislature needs to step in and put a stop to this: the current state of software patents. Most of this nonsense is, as they say: "patently obvious to the most casual programmer" and has no novelty to it under any reasonable description of the word "novel".

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2011, at 7:12 PM, rfaramir wrote:

    The only way to stop it is to end it. The government has no business telling us how we can innovate or from whom we can learn.

    Jeffrey Tucker explains it well here:

    Long AAPL, but disappointed in legal shenanigans.

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2011, at 7:15 PM, KenAtPcs wrote:

    "It is hard to image any one claiming -- without smirking, of course -- a smiley face as any kind of intellectual property, "

    Actually, Smileyworld owns the worldwide rights to what most of us think of when we think of a "smiley face" (the yellow one with the marks at the end of each side of the mouth). I've heard they aggressively defend their IP. Maybe they'll sue the winner of this suit! :-)

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2011, at 3:45 AM, kariku wrote:

    Why do you have to advertise MMI and QCOM in this article ? (and a lot of similar ones) Is this the new pumping strategy ? Write an article on a hot topic and gratuitously promote unrelated stocks ?

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2011, at 2:39 PM, DieselboyPunker wrote:

    It's hilarious that people are mocking Samsung for this lawsuit, but if you look at the majority of apple's patent trolling lawsuits in courts now, they're just as ridiculous:

    - The ability to single click on a phone number recognized in an email and call it....(Best part is Google parsed phone numbers, etc. on their search engine, years before apple added it to their phone. Who's stealing now?)

    - Better yet, the Samsung galaxy tablet/galaxy II S has rounded corners and is in a general rectangular shape? (I'm pretty sure Amazon created the kindle, prior to the ipad which had a general rectangular shape with rounded corners...)

    Embrace the competition and out innovate your competitor, don't do it in the court of law.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2011, at 8:20 PM, XMFDRadovsky wrote:

    Hi Dieselboy,

    I don't mean to make fun of Samsung, but it does seem like such an extreme example of the patent sillies that it was hard to resist. And I agree; Apple, too, gets carried away in its over-zealous protection of its "innovations".

    I forget where I read this, but when Steve Jobs got so upset about Windows using a GUI and called Bill Gates to task about it, Gates said something to the effect of -- I didn't steal it from you. We both stole it from Xerox.

    Thanks for reading and your comments,


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