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Google Patents Its Home Page 390

Posted by timothy
from the to-advance-useful-arts-and-sciences dept.
theodp writes "A week after new USPTO Director David Kappos pooh-poohed the idea that a lower patent allowance rate equals higher quality, Google was granted a patent on its Home Page. Subject to how the design patent is enforced, Google now owns the idea of having a giant search box in the middle of the page, with two big buttons underneath and several small links nearby. And you doubted Google's commitment to patent reform, didn't you?"
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Google Patents Its Home Page

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  • by Sj0 (472011) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:05AM (#29298349) Homepage Journal

    Publicly lobbying for reform on patents they themselves own, doesn't this seem like a more defensive move than a necessarily malicious one?

    I'm sure every doctor protesting tort reform has liability insurance regardless. Why shouldn't Google get some insurance of their own? It's a cut-throat world out there, after all. If you don't tread carefully, you'll get shut down.

  • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:14AM (#29298447) Journal
    Google only acquiring the patent is NOT evil.

    Now, if they bust out an army of Google patent lawyers and start suing everything that has an input box and a submit button... then I'd have to agree. But for now, it could just be a brilliant plan to showcase how NOT evil Google is, and how RETARDED the patent process can be.

    And besides... what if some malevolent entity decided to patent this before Google did? Then we'd all be in for a heap of trouble, because this other entity would be doing it just to troll patent infringement lawsuits all over the place. At least now Google could potentially prevent that kind of behavior... But again, goes to show how dumb the patent process really is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:23AM (#29298571)

    ...note that this a is a design patent []. It is more like a trademark than a utility patent and covers only the "non-functional" elements of the design.

    So? Their patent is sooooo vague and generic anyone who wants a simple website will run afoul and may be sued. And this may put a freeze on a trend [] in simpler web designs - which I am all for, I'm sick of the clutter and business that's become the defacto standard these days. *Ahem* Slashdot.

  • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:34AM (#29298723)

    RTFS. It's a design patent, not a software (utility) patent.

    I'm not sure that distinction matters in this case. Designers are directly limited, but they'd use software to implement the idea. Software developers who make web pages are limited, despite this being a design patent.

  • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by denominateur (194939) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:38AM (#29298773) Homepage

    I remember reading somewhere that there are processes in place for a patent submitter to deprecate a patent and forcefully render its content public domain. Am I remembering incorrectly? If not, then that would surely be a sign of goodwill as it would render the given content unpatentable.

  • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yesteraeon (872571) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:47AM (#29298883)
    That this is a stupid patent and may, in fact, be prior art, doesn't mean Google's motivations are nefarious. Indeed, if you are correct that it is prior art, then all the more reason for Google to apply for this patent even if they have no intention of enforcing it. If Google could receive the patent despite prior art (or lack of originality), then another organization could possibly have done the same thing and then turned around and sued Google. If you had billions to lose and were working in a broken patent system, you would apply for some dumb patents too, just to cover your ass.
  • by hannson (1369413) <> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @10:04AM (#29299131)

    Actually, their motto is "Don't be evil" it's impossible to "Do no evil" - it's an understandable but inexcusable mistake *grin*. While you've got a point it could also be argued that by not being evil, Google is more likely to make profit for the shareholders (good PR etc), especially in the long term.

    We really don't know Google's intentions with this patent until they enforce it. Everything else is speculative at best. I'm not taking sides here, I'm just preaching doubt.

    On a side note; Can someone give some insight on that this design is from (at least) 1998. Does that mean that the patent will be valid until 2018 or 2029?

  • by BassMan449 (1356143) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @10:42AM (#29299637)
    They probably should have published it as prior art, but prior art doesn't seem to mean much in this world. The USPTO seems to ignore any prior art and then issue the patent anyway. Then Google would likely get sued and have to spend the money to defend the lawsuit (likely in East Texas) and then get the patent invalidated. It is cheaper to file for it themselves then try to defend a lawsuit later. I honestly don't believe that's the reason they have done this. I wish it was, and I hope it does show how ridiculous the patent system has gotten, but I doubt that was the main reason google applied for this patent.
  • by MoralHazard (447833) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @10:45AM (#29299681)

    Actually, what I did there was the opposite of "polarize", because I smooshed everything into one big group, in the middle. I don't know what the right word would be, though.

    What I also did, more importantly, was take the piss out of Google, and apparently offend one of their fans (you).

    I'm curious what basis you have to believe that "the people in charge at Google have more 'moral' business ethics than most'. Did you take a sample of businesses and rate the ethical practices of each? Or have you worked there, and seen how Google Sausage is made, and compared it to other companies for which you've worked?

    I'm going to wear my colors, here, and guess that you're responding to the hard work that Google's brilliant PR department has but into their carefully polished corporate image.

    But let's make this fun, I'll going to and make this simple challenge:

            What evidence can you provide to support your claim that Google is ethically superior to most other businesses?

    and if you're game, you show me what you've got. (Feel free to define those terms however you want, it's your assertion, anyway.)

  • Re:Evil. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BassMan449 (1356143) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @10:46AM (#29299709)
    Reading the description on wikipedia wouldn't Google's homepage being posted publicly for years have qualified as "public use or publishing the details of an invention before applying for a patent"? That would seem to me that they would have put the design into public domain by using it before applying for a patent.
  • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @11:29AM (#29300315) Homepage Journal

    You need to ask yourself two question:

    1. When has Google sued or threatened to sue anyone over patent violations?

    2. When has Microsoft sued or threatened to sue anyone over patent violations?

    I don't think Google has _ever_ even threatened to sue. They've been sued, on a number of occasions, but I can't find any references to them actually doing the suing.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, has been shouting for years that Linux violates 238 of it's patents. Although they've toned it down recently. They've also sued TomTom just this year, over patent violations.

    It's not just "Microsoft has a patent, so they're evil!......Google has a patent, so they're showing the stupidity of the patent system!"
    You've got to take into account the history of the patent holder, what previous abuses they have subjected customers and competitors to, among other things.

    There's a reason the punishment for a second offence is bigger than the first offence. Because courts take into account the history of the offender. You're not doing that.
    You're complaining about foebois and fanbois, while you yourself are blinkered to the big picture.

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @02:04PM (#29302189) Homepage

    I don't just work there, I get paid by Google to promote them, hence the positive overtones in my post. Okay seriously...

    Firstly, I think my use of the word 'polarize' was a feeling coming across from your initial post that you used to think that companies (such as Google) were fundamentally good in some way and others generally evil, with nothing in between. And because you found that not to be true, you swing *completely* the other way and say they must all be as good as each other. I think that's what annoyed me the most, just the fact that you're saying they're all as good as each other with no room for contrast.

    I'm curious what basis you have to believe that "the people in charge at Google have more 'moral' business ethics than most'

    Er, it's not a very strong statement anyway being in the top 50% or even 80%. My evidence? Well, in general, us Slashdot peeps tend to praise them more than most, or at least not criticize them as harshly as many other companies. More concrete points include:

    1: Their attitude towards open source / Chrome (and I'm not really a fan of open source yet).
    2: How they're not doing evil things the way companies like Microsoft or Apple (yes that is a good thing for a company whose main purpose is to make money).
    3: Also their relatively unobtrusive ads with their stance on popups
    4: Their creativity for projects such as Google Wave and GMail. There's real dedication and a love for what they're doing, which goes beyond the short-sighted goals of short-term profit.
    5: Their stance on freeing the airwaves [].
    6: Their efforts to store all books/information online, whilst trying to please both publishers and the public at the same.

    I read your previous post again, and I'm sorry to hear that their support for certain Google app APIs is not exceptional, but one still has to look at the wider picture, especially considering the size of the company.

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang