Samsung Sued Over Emoticon Patent, But Not By Apple

Samsung was hit with a patent infringement lawsuit yesterday over an emoticon patent (see below). Plaintiff Varia Holdings LLC charges that Samsung mobile phones violate its 2007 U.S. Patent (No. 7,167,731) for an “Emoticon Input Method and Apparatus.”

Varia Holdings took a jab at the electronics giant, charging that “Samsung is a prolific patent filer that actively protects its intellectual property,” but allegedly infringes the rights of others.

Of course, there are a few twists to this case.

Varia Holdings says that Samsung accumulated nearly 22,000 patents from January 23, 2007 (the date the patent in this lawsuit) to January 31, 2012, enough so that Samsung had to be “actively monitor[ing] PTO filings on technologies related to Samsung products and knew of [plaintiff’s] Patent at or around the date of its issuance.”

This point is central to Varia Holdings’ suit, particularly since years after the USPTO issued plaintiff’s patent, it issued one on November 16, 2010 (No. 7,835,720) for an “Emoticon input method for mobile terminal” owned by Samsung.

The complaint alludes to Samsung’s recent lawsuit in Germany against Apple alleging infringement of, among other things, the company’s European patent (EP 1215867), once again, for an “Emoticon input method for mobile terminal.”

According to Varia, “by asserting [its European] emoticon patent against Apple, Samsung has recognized the value of the type of invention embodied in [Varia’s] ‘731 Patent.”

Of course, since Varia Holdings filed its suit in the Southern District of New York, this is the equivalent of giving Samsung the ‘Bronx cheer’ a/k/a ‘the Raspberry.’ It’s Varia’s way of saying: “if you think your emoticon patent is so valuable that you’ll sue Apple over it, then ours is worth at least as much.”

You can read Varia Holdings’ new emoticon patent lawsuit against Samsung below, and browse the case docket here.

Complaint for Patent Infringement (Varia Holdings, LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., et al.)