Smartphone patent spells trouble for all device manufacturers

If you thought that the NTP-RIM patent war was ludicrous, get ready to soar to new and unheard of heights of idiocy.

The US patent office has granted a patent for a mobile entertainment and communication device in a palm-held size housing. The full abstract reads:

A mobile entertainment and communication device in a palm-held size housing has a cellular or satellite telephone capable of wireless communication with the Internet and one or more replaceable memory card sockets for receiving a blank memory card for recording data directly from the Internet and, in particular, musical performances that then can be selectively reproduced by the device for the enjoyment of the user, including both audio and visual recordings and reproductions. The device also includes a camera and microphone for recording images and sound within the range of the device that can be wirelessly transmitted, either selectively or automatically to a remote telephone. Further, the device includes sensors for sensing unusual conditions that may also be transmitted to a remote telephone, together with the location of the device as determined by a GPS section of the device.

That pretty much covers the gamut of mobile phones, including smartphones. The patent filers certainly feel that way as they filed lawsuits against Apple, Nokia, RIM, Sprint, AT&T, HP, Motorola, Helio, HTC, Sony Ericsson, UTStarcomm, Samsung and others the day the patent was granted (after jumping the gun and filing a day early and having to withdraw them).

Part of the issue here is that the patent was continuously updated over the years (continuation filings), adding additional technologies and functionality as time went on. Should the date of the patent filing not be reset each time the patent is updated? And should patents be granted on such overly generic descriptions?

This train wreck will be fun to watch, if only to once again demonstrate how the US patent office needs to be overhauled.

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