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Google Patents United States

Google Patents Its Home Page 390

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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  • Evil. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:51AM (#29298187)

    That is all.

    • Re:Evil. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:55AM (#29298223)

      Or... it's a cunning ploy to show how idiotic Patents are in this day-and-age.

      • Re:Evil. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:04AM (#29298335)

        Or... it's a cunning ploy to show how idiotic Patents are in this day-and-age.

        I hope so, but I doubt it. It's less-obviously idiotic than a lot of other software patents out there. If Google wanted to make that point, I think that would/could have been more effective.

        • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Stile 65 ( 722451 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:18AM (#29298503) Homepage Journal

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

          • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jbengt ( 874751 )
              You cold get a design patent on wallpaper (the physical kind and the desktop kind) That limits designers and software developers in the same way that Google's design patent prevents one from copying their page's look. And design patents don't last as long, IIRC
            • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03, 2009 @12:47PM (#29301213)

              As a patent attorney, I can tell you it makes a big difference--the coverage of a design patent is very thin--it covers basically what and only what you see in solid lines in the image of the patent that was included in the article (the dotted lines are not part of the patent). This means this patent covers a big search box, with the links above and below, and notably a big box that says "search" right next to one that says "I'm feeling lucky". Design patents are pretty narrow anyway, but including the boxes and wording keeps this pretty tight.

              All-in-all, this is probably just fine. It will keep anyone from creating dead knock-offs, but not much more.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by nametaken ( 610866 )
        • My stand is: As long as they don't go around suing folks over this, I'm perfectly fine with them mocking bad patents. If they decide to litigate over this... then... well... EVIL!

          • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by vandit2k6 ( 848077 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:24AM (#29298585) Homepage
            Or they could also just be covering their own ass up. There is a history of smaller companies suing larger companies just for the $$. I think Google doesn't want the hassle. That's just my opinion!
            • by Webcommando ( 755831 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:53AM (#29298979) Homepage Journal
              ...or they could have simply published and established prior art without the need for a patent.

              If you have an idea and you want to make sure you can use it, but don't think it is patent worthy, you can publish it to cite later when someone else attempts to patent it.

              When I was designing manufacturing systems, we would often do this. Since it was internal technology, it would be difficult to identify infringers using it in their factories. However, we didn't want some machine vendor or someone visiting claiming our designs are an infringement.

              I'll admit I don't trust Google as far as I can throw one of their private jets. I'll also admit that I believe patents are important to protect real innovations.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by BassMan449 ( 1356143 )
                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 ho
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by siloko ( 1133863 )

                you can publish it to cite later when someone else attempts to patent it.

                In the UK to establish copyright you used to be able to send yourself a stamp addressed envelope containing the relevant work. So long as it remained unopened the postmark served as both a mark of authenticity and also as a timestamp.

      • If so, I would've thought that the news should have come with a press release to that effect alongside it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by noundi ( 1044080 )
        Or it's Googles way to cover their asses in case somebody else wanted to patent it, rendering them forced to change the coined "Google look". This doesn't mean that Google embraces patenting. What it does mean is that Google, regardless of being for or against patents, is smart enough to play along until things change.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by andymadigan ( 792996 )
          Google's home page would be such an obvious piece of prior art that any such patent would be thrown out instantly. No, they did this to stifle competition.
          • Still costs money to defend, and time. And for a publicly traded company, stock prices can suffer since people don't want to invest heavily in such a wildcard. Patent cases can seem to be rather arbitrarily decided at times, so easier to put your money somewhere else until the case is decided.

          • 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.
            • Any attempt like you describe by another company wouldn't make it past summary judgement.

              Google (as far as I can remember) was the first to use this page design, thus they can patent it (though it seems a bit late, it's been in public view for ages). There's really no point in having a patent you don't intend to enforce, unless you intend to use it for cross-licensing. Just because you have a patent doesn't mean it can't be invalidated by someone else proving that they already patented the same thing.
          • In case you hadn't noticed, "obvious prior art" doesn't seem to be so, to the USPTO. Clearly the people who work at the patent office in the USA are ancient men who respect football and beer and have secretaries to print their email so that they can read it. They have black dial phones, and a cell is a place to hold felons. They have a colective case of cranio-sygmoidal insertion that would rate a Guiness record.

            We'll see what Google does with this patent.

        • by rho ( 6063 )

          There's always some way of casting Google in a good light.

          Good thing Google isn't evil! WHEW!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Smivs ( 1197859 )

        I'm going to apply for a 'facial configuration' patent: A nose with two eyes above and to either side, with a mouth beneath. Then I'll SUE YOU ALL!

        • by nkh ( 750837 )
          Well, thank you very much Mister Smart Guy! In 200 years, we'll all be speaking through our nostrils thanks to you, are you happy now?
      • Neither (Score:3, Insightful)

        Or... it's a cunning ploy to show how idiotic Patents are in this day-and-age.

        It is what it is. A patent. Reason being, those are the rules of the game today.

        Just because you're for patent reform doesn't suddenly mean that the whole rest of the world will leave you alone while you're off crusading. You still have to play by the rules of the game as they are today. If they were suddenly to not pursue patents, they'd be bulldozed over by the competition. When you're dead and buried it's hard to figh

    • 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.
      • what if some malevolent entity decided to patent this before Google did?

        Prior art.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Thinboy00 ( 1190815 )

          what if some malevolent entity decided to patent this before Google did?

          Prior art.

          East-Texas-Judge:What is "prior art"?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

        What about chilling effects? You're telling me that you're happily invest your life savings into a business venture that includes something covered by a patent, merely on the hope that they won't care?

        And what about when you're trying to find an investor or a loan, and the person points out the patent problem - are you going to be arguing "Oh that doesn't matter, Google are really really nice, they'd never do anything like taking someone to court. Oh go on, lend me the money, please?"

        And besides... what if

      • Google only acquiring the patent is NOT evil.

        If they're willing to submit it to something like the Open Invention Network [], then I'd agree. (I'm not sure OIN is the right group, since they're Linux-oriented.)

        If they won't, then I stick by my "evil" claim. (Or at least, "probably evil".)

    • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:21AM (#29298549) Journal

      That is all.

      Or it's to prevent scammers and phishers from making Google-like homepages. Think for a minute how awesome that would be if you got a rube to show up at your and it looked just like the Google homepage. They do a search for Bank of America and it takes them to which looks just like bank of america. You could potentially do a lot of damage if you had the patience to go around scraping major sites and just making static HTML pages that sent username and password back to a database. And if you could get like three or four sites to correlate your identity theft ...

      With domain name poisoning or the actions of some viruses on the hosts file in Windows, is it so hard to imagine an entrepreneurial scammer getting naive people to download and install a virus that simple takes them to instead of google's real homepage? Perhaps with this design patent (as everyone and their dog has pointed out already), their intent is to make prosecuting these scammers a possibility for them instead of having to wait for the feds to come up with some identity theft charges. After all, were I stealing your info, I'd just be selling it. Not directly doing the identity theft, mind you.

      You can spin this both ways. Is it possible for Google to start attacking everyone with simple centered search boxes and links across the top? Maybe. I doubt they'd get far but if you can point me to a case of that, I'll conceded vileness.

      • Re:Evil. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tms AT infamous DOT net> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @10:02AM (#29299115) Homepage

        Or it's to prevent scammers and phishers from making Google-like homepages

        Which is the purpose of trademark law -- to protect the customer by allowing them to distinguish with whom they're doing business.

        Google's homepage has this big Google logo on it, which is (I presume) a registered trademark of Google. If you put a Google logo, or something that looks like it, on your page, the trademark cops will crush you. No design patent is necessary.

        This is more like Apple's evil "look-and-feel" lawsuits from the early 90s.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Xtifr ( 1323 )

          Which is the purpose of trademark law -- to protect the customer by allowing them to distinguish with whom they're doing business.

          Except that Trademarks are basically limited to words, phrases, and specific images. A general overall look or style is frequently not trademarkable, in which case it can be protected by...get ready for it...a design patent!

          (Classic example, the classic Coca Cola bottle, although that ended up being trademarked as well.)

          On the other hand, a design patent on "bare-bones, undecorated", which this is dangerously close to being, seems a bit disingenuous to me, so I'm not exactly happy with this development. B

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tompeach ( 1118811 )
        Do you think that somebody that sets up a scam site is worried about getting sued for patent infringement?
    • by afxgrin ( 208686 )

      Patents like this won't stand up when tested in court however.

      I think the patent system just rubber stamps lots of them, and lets the courts decide on things later.

      • Patents like this won't stand up when tested in court however.

        I think the patent system just rubber stamps lots of them, and lets the courts decide on things later.

        The courts generally defer to the patent office on the validity of patents. So nobody does their job and stupid patents get upheld.

    • Patents are evil!!!
      Anyone who gets a patent is evil!!!

      +5 insightful please

  • Don't be evil? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:53AM (#29298189) Homepage Journal

    The Yahoo Search page, depicted at left, bears a striking resemblance to

    I think Google needs a new motto.

    Google's shareholders will be more pleased, of course, as will staff. Google diva Marissa Mayer, the overachieving VP of search, added another patent to her trophy case with the decision. Powerful executive; athlete; fashionista; and genius inventor of this totally unprecedented rendering of HTML. Is there anything Mayer can't do?

    Apparently she can't refrain from making Google be evil.

    The only two good things I can think of regarding this are

    1. Patents only last 20 years. Copyrights should last no longer, but at least patents are of a reasonable length. TFA says Google owns the design, but that's incorrect; it only has a 20 year lease on the design.
    2. Perhaps this will lead to patent reform, but I sincerely doubt it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jo42 ( 227475 )

      What a load of bullsh*t! The patent office is completely incompetent. There is prior art. AltaVista for one []

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jonbryce ( 703250 )

        This is a design patent, so it is patenting what it looks like, not the functional effect of the page. The two pages look completely different, so an Altavista-like page would not infringe the patent.

      • Re:Don't be evil? (Score:5, Informative)

        by reebmmm ( 939463 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:42AM (#29298827)

        Design patent law is an area of great frustration for people. Design patents are relatively easy to obtain because of what they cover: essentially the identical design or any colorable imitation. As recently stated by the Fed. Cir., the test for design patent infringement is stated: "infringement will not be found unless the accused article âoeembod[ies] the patented design or any colorable imitation thereof.â" Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc. Therefore, to invalidate, the design must either embody the prior art or merely be a colorable imitation. This is a tricky analysis.

        For companies like Apple and Google, design patents are helpful in preventing knock-offs. In this respect, the line is blurred between trademark and design patent law. However, they are not useful for much else since many of the elements of a design are functional (and a good lawyer can make that argument) and are not merely composed of distinctive elements.

        And, all is not lost for similar "prior art" designs, though. The very same case made the point that "prior art" designs might also be used by a defendant to highlight the differences between the claimed and accused design. Thus, an accused defendant might escape infringement by pointing out those elements they share with the prior art design and thus those elements cannot be the grounds for infringement.

        A final point, design patents are what a lot of people were duped into filing when going to Invention Help companies. Those companies simply filed a mostly worthless design patent instead of a utility patent. They have practically no commercial value except as a deterrent to would-be second-comers trying to copy verbatim the design. Therefore, those that were duped have virtually no protection against second comers that merely make changes the look & feel of an "invention." Plus, the inventors are then locked out of filing a utility application because they usually don't realize until much too late (more than a year after they start selling, for instance). That sucks.

    • Powerful executive; athlete; fashionista; and genius inventor of this totally unprecedented rendering of HTML

      She's not an "athlete". Neither her Wikipedia page nor any google searches turn up any mention of her doing any sports, nor any competitive entries.

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:54AM (#29298207) Homepage

    Design patents are for very distinctive but not functional items.

    EG, Apple has tons, TONS of design patents on the iMac, as they had on the NeXT cube and pizza boxes, as so on and so forth...

    That google did NOT already have a design patent on their home page is strange and noteworthy, not that they just got one now.

    • Exactly. They were the first ones to actually design an intuitive search interface. All of the other "intuitive" search interfaces afterwards were heavily based on this concept (remember when Yahoo attempted the same thing?)

      This actually deserves some IP protection.

    • by nycguy ( 892403 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:00AM (#29298295)
      So next time I hear someone talk about intelligent design, I'm going to ask them to show me God's patents.
    • by MadJo ( 674225 )

      But so far no one else decided to patent "giant searchbox with two buttons beneath it, and some tiny lettering at the bottom and a menu system at the top". And if someone did, you could easily say "Prior Art".
      So why do so now? It doesn't make any sense.

    • by hamburger lady ( 218108 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:16AM (#29298477)

      don't bother. /.ers see 'patent' and flip out. never mind that a design patent is non-functional, it doesn't matter. it's the "P" word.

      • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @10:01AM (#29299101) Journal

        Thank you, we know what a design patent is. How does that make it different such that the objections people have put forward here are not valid?

        E.g., does that mean other people are free to design a similar interface? Of course not. In which case, they share the same property of other kinds of patents that people disagree with.

        Put it another way - why does putting the word "design" in front make it okay? ("Don't bother, hamburger lady sees the 'd' word, and flips out, there's obviously no valid argument here." - see how invalid that argument is?)

        And they are not "non-functional", rather, they cover non-functional designs. The patent itself certainly functions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Theaetetus ( 590071 )

          E.g., does that mean other people are free to design a similar interface? Of course not.

          Yes, they are. The rest of your post is moot since it relies on this statement.

  • by BeardsmoreA ( 951706 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:55AM (#29298229) Homepage
    It is of course perfectly possible that they have no intention of abusing this in any way, and merely wanted to make sure they didn't end up fighting any stupid law suits from some bright spark who had the idea of filing something similar and going after them with it.
    Time will tell how 'evil' this is.
  • by rackeer ( 1607869 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:56AM (#29298241) Homepage
    Let me defend google. One thing is wanting to reform the status quo, another having to live with it. They are pragmatic. It doesn't make sense to close your eyes to reality. Google has been fighting off patent trolls for a long time. They have to be careful.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by noidentity ( 188756 )
      That's an aspect of imaginary property laws that is often ignored in discussions: even if you don't care to "protect" your own imaginary property with the laws, you must still play the game, otherwise someone else may use the laws to attack your real property (i.e. money).
  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:57AM (#29298255)
    Anybody else notice that the slashdot reply function is a box in the middle of the page, buttons underneath and a bunch of links around it?
  • The Bing and Yahoo search pages look a lot like what the patent describes, may be google will sue them, and make bing and Yahoo search pages go back to the days of alta-vista and lycos.
  • There must be some functionality that is patented, so I doubt the patent is just "a search box with a couple buttons".

    Google creates a lot of IP and for the most part gives it away to users in the form of useful, free products and services. The only way to protect IP is to maintain legal control of it, otherwise you never know when someone may try to sue you.

    Much like Microsoft, Google is extending its patent portfolio to preempt litigation, not to come down hard on little guys. I would be a bit hesitant to

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:05AM (#29298345) Homepage
    ...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.
  • by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:05AM (#29298349) 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.

  • Google Reality Check (Score:3, Informative)

    by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:10AM (#29298383) Journal
    In the hipster-doofus lovefest that is for all things Google, it's important to remember one critical, key point

    Google is a publicly traded company and it's only obligation is to make a profit for shareholders

    That means doing things like filing for ridiculous patents (because everyone else does it) and co-operating with bending to the will of Chinese authorities (because if we don't some other search company will and make all the money)

    "Do no evil" is more of a guideline than a rule with Google. Maybe they should file a copyright for "We do less evil than everyone else"
    • "Do no evil" is more of a guideline than a rule with Google. Maybe they should file a copyright for "We do less evil than everyone else"

      If they're less evil than everyone else, doesn't that make them the nicest company in existence by default?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nedlohs ( 1335013 )


      There are numerous public companies that won't make a profit this year. In fact there are numerous public companies that have never made a profit.

      The obligations of a public company are to file various securities reports. The rest is the same for public and private companies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hannson ( 1369413 )

      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 s

  • by MoralHazard ( 447833 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:16AM (#29298469)

    First, there's the outages. Google NEVER used to go down, it was part of their "mystique"--their engineering was SOOO amazing, and so well designed. The Cloud could NEVER go down!

    Second, there's the Evil. I feel like I saw this one coming, years ago, having spent a good portion of my career in the advertising industry. It's a simple equation, right? Google is a publicly-traded company, and their core business is selling advertisements, which means their REAL business is selling your eyeballs+buying habits to anybody and everybody with cash. Eventually, there had to be some visible, significant conflicts between the basic reality and their high-concept, geek-chic PR fantasy.

    Finally, and this is more personal, there's the lack of responsiveness from developers, and the perception of a "one-way street". Go look up the API for Google Tasks, and you'll see what I mean: Not only doesn't it exist, despite a lot of begging from interested users/developers, but Google keeps responding (when they do respond, which isn't often) that they have a corporate policy of not discussing pending release schedules. I understand that they have finite resources and have to make their own development roadmap, but their attitude seems to be "we're not going to acknowledge the gripes of our base". Which basically is the same attitude that any Big Software Company takes.

    So, I'm not saying that Google is a crap company, or that I'm going to stop using Gmail, or that they're the new Evil Empire. But they're not really fundamentally different from every other Evil Corporation that we like to villify, here on Slashdot. There are no "good guys" and "bad guys"--there's just an open field of self-interested actors, each with a shitload more money, engineers, and lawyers than you.

    • by Twinbee ( 767046 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:27AM (#29298629) Homepage

      Or maybe something in between. Why do you need to polarize like this?

      You still get good companies, and you still get bad ones, and everything in between. And I don't just mean in terms of efficiency or how much profit they make. I for one believe that the people in charge at Google have more 'moral' business ethics than most.

      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Twinbee ( 767046 )

          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 an

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:26AM (#29298611)

    Let me get this straight.

    Google goes to a library and begins to scan every book they can get their hands on for the "Altruistic" reason of making the book available for a wider audience. This is without asking the author's permission, and to make things appear fair they make a scheme that authors have to follow to "opt-out". This is basically changing the enforcement of the current copyright law for Google's benefit.

    While at the same time they are defending their right to copy the contents of a book without the author's permission in court, they patent their home page so other's can't copy it without Google's permission. Bizarre. Pot meet Kettle...

  • by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:27AM (#29298623)
    I'm sorry, in advance, for ranting and raving, but this is absolute lunacy. A web page design is copyright protected at best. What makes the central search box and a couple of buttons and nearby links a unique business process? Google's structure of algorithims, cache servers, and distributed search processing are (IMO) a patentable business process. In fact, I'd argue that there's an abundance of prior art out there against this patent. Does anyone remember the early Webcrawler page? It might not have been centered (but that's just formatting), but it had a very basic search box, a search button, and a list of category links below (from October 1996: []).

    Google might have a relaxed and hip work environment, but some people in their legal and/or IP departments must be (IMO) taking some really bad trips. This is downright stupidity that does nothing to help promote meaningful patent reform unless Google uses this patent as an example of the type of schlock that is getting approved, and makes it the 'poster boy' for patent reform.
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:38AM (#29298765) Journal

    With Google, I know they do it to protect the idea from the patent trolls themselves. Google is NOT in the business of collecting money by patent-trolling, we all know that.

    And besides, as many have mentioned, this is a design patent, anyway. It would be impossible to patent a web page with a search box, because there is, demonstrably, prior art.

  • Hard to be (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Derosian ( 943622 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:48AM (#29298899) Homepage Journal
    It's hard to be a good 'idea' company in America when using the patent system at all is an act that will move your alignment towards evil.
  • Another hysterical, misinformed and hyped article from theodp.
  • It's a design patent you twits. It doesn't cover anything but the appearance of the home page. It doesn't imply any coverage of an idea of a "simple home page" or anything else like that.

    Seriously Slashdot editors should be required to take a few lessons on the various types of patents, basic copyright law and trademark law. The amount of misinformation on these topics here is frightening.

  • or anyone else who files absurd, trivial or stupid patents. I still blame idiotic laws and an insane patent office. And a game where the rule is to accumulate as many patents as possible to guard against being bombarded by patent lawyers first.

Air is water with holes in it.