By way of the Register comes another patent tale of woe. Apparently, Cingular is looking to patent "using emoticons, such as for wireless devices." The application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office says the following in its abstract:
A method and system for generating a displayable icon or emoticon form that indicates the mood or emotion of a user of the mobile station. A user of a device, such as a mobile phone, is provided with a dedicated key or shared dedicated key option that the user may select to insert an emoticon onto a display or other medium. The selection of the key or shared dedicated key may result in the insertion of the emoticon, or may also result in the display of a collection of emoticons that the user may then select from using, for example, a key mapping or navigation technique.
The application goes on to refer to the usage of physical keys that are dedicated to emoticon generation and lists specific emoticons. I have enough trouble finding the pound, period, slash, @ sign, and asterisk keys on the various keyboard-enabled handheld I'm playing with (I'm just now warming up a Treo 700w). Now they're going to squeeze emoticon keys onto the keyboard? I can see the advertisement now: "Cingular: The World's Only Wireless Emoticon Company :-P"