Today I read that Cingular has patented a way of generating an Emoticon (smilies, etc.). This seems insane that a patent be granted on something that has been in use for years. Cingular may have put a slight spin on it, but the Patent and Trademark Office doesn’t seem to have a clue about what constitutes a new idea. Speaking of patents, I’m not a fan of software patents as a simple idea that a developer codes up one day thinking that he is clever only to find out that he has violated a patent. If I patented every idea I came up with when writing code, I would never have time to actually write code as I solve problems and it really doesn’t matter how I do it in code, so I use lots of different techniques in order to get the job done. Hopefully the Patent and Trademark Office will learn to only patent really clever ideas and not stuff made up to extort money from others.