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Google Patents Its Home Page

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the to-advance-useful-arts-and-sciences dept.

Google 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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Evil. (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298187)

That is all.

Goatse patents mooning (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298191)

In retaliation, goatse [goatse.fr] has now patented mooning, and also all images of anuses.

Re:Goatse patents mooning (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298277)

In retaliation, goatse [goatse.fr] has now patented mooning, and also all images of anuses.

That's not evil, that's a public service.

Re:Evil. (4, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298223)

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

Re:Evil. (3, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#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. (5, Informative)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298503)

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

Re:Evil. (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#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. (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298525)

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. (5, Insightful)

vandit2k6 (848077) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298585)

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!

Re:Evil. -- Make it prior-art not a patent! (5, Informative)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298979)

...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:Evil. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298419)

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

Re:Evil. (3, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298537)

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:Evil. (3, Insightful)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298649)

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.

Re:Evil. (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298795)

such an obvious piece of prior art

Have we heard that before?

Re:Evil. (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298831)

This isn't an "obvious to software engineers" obvious, it's a "anyone who has used a computer in the last 10 years has seen the Google homepage".

However, it could be that they want to use it against look-alike scam sites (or just sites that pretend to be Google in general). I would think trademark protection would take care of that though.

Re:Evil. (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298835)

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. (5, Interesting)

yesteraeon (872571) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Evil. (1)

rho (6063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298893)

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

Good thing Google isn't evil! WHEW!

Re:Evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298939)

defense is no excuse for participating in a broken system

Re:Evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298985)

AFAIK a patent is not really valid until tested, having a patent is just a pre-emptive document.

Altavista and other search engines had a similar layout years before google came along and don't even get me started on Xerox PARC.

Re:Evil. (2, Funny)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298577)

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!

Re:Evil. (1)

nkh (750837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298957)

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?

Re:Evil. (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298813)

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

Watch as I unveil a cunning ploy for taking over the world. See... see how easy it was for me to take over the world! Someone should change that. Yeah. One of you get on that. I'll be over here counting my money.

Re:Evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298897)

They fought 5 years for it, so i doubt it.

Google fuck you! Tbh all search is pretty equal, i only stick with google because i thought they were generally a pretty good company, even if i can't get the clean results i like from google (because the fucks patented that too), i will most definitely be searching elsewhere!

Re:Evil. (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298341)

Surely. How could someone possibly patent the design of a webpage?

The Google trademark is indicated as an optional element on the design, meaning a similar design with a different name would be infringing. What is even the purpose of this trademark? Sue random sites just because they seem a little similar to Google's main page?

As if someone wouldn't notice a page with a different name is not Google. If that was the case, they should be sued for fraud, not patent infringement.

This patent(as many others) is pointless and should not be.

It's official now: Google is Evil... and it watches us.

Re:Evil. (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298597)

It is a design patent, not an invention patent. Adidas has a patent on the three stripes design on their clothes. There is nothing technical or inventive about it, it is just how people recognise their product.

Re:Evil. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298647)

Aren't you talking about Trademark? How could you patent three stripes?

Re:Evil. (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298789)

They have a trademark as well, but if Nike were to take the design of one of the items of clothing, and replace the Adidas logo with their own, that wouldn't infringe the trademark, but it would infringe the design patent.

Re:Evil. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298949)

No, he's talking about design patents. GIYF.

Re:Evil. (4, Interesting)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298447)

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.

Re:Evil. (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298583)

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

Prior art.

Re:Evil. (3, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298637)

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 some malevolent entity decided to patent this before Google did?

Then there'd be obvious prior art such that the patent wouldn't be valid. Plus I can play that game too - "What if some nicer-than-Google entity wanted to patent it?"

Believe it or not, bad patents should not be dished out because we think a company has been "nice".

Re:Evil. (4, Interesting)

denominateur (194939) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298773)

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. (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298811)

Google only acquiring the patent is NOT evil.

If they're willing to submit it to something like the Open Invention Network [wikipedia.org] , 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. (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298549)

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 www.google.eldavo.com and it looked just like the Google homepage. They do a search for Bank of America and it takes them to www.bankofamerica.eldavo.com 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 www.google.eldavo.com 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. (0, Troll)

Kartu (1490911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298699)

Microsoft's evil anti Google PR at work!

Re:Evil. (1)

afxgrin (208686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298721)

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.

Re:Evil. (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298757)

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.

Re:Evil. (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298931)

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

+5 insightful please

Don't be evil? (3, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298189)

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

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:Don't be evil? (3, Informative)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298281)

What a load of bullsh*t! The patent office is completely incompetent. There is prior art. AltaVista for one http://web.archive.org/web/19961022174810/http://www.altavista.com/ [archive.org]

Re:Don't be evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298455)

having a giant search box in the middle of the page, with two big buttons underneath and several small links nearby

I hope you realize you should have RTFA.
Google's home page is unique (as in, your face is unique). But why should people care anyway? No one needs to copy the whole design, and not like this will hinder any kind of development. The anti-Google crowd must have all wet their pants with this news. "Patents, I knew it!" It's like their wettest dream come true. Don't let an AC interrupt you.

Re:Don't be evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298509)

altavista.com was an impostor. The real AltaVista was at altavista.digital.com: http://web.archive.org/web/19961022174555/http://altavista.digital.com/

It had no banner ad but still a lot more text than Google's home page.

Re:Don't be evil? (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298659)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298923)

This is going to require some explaining since designs are not patentable in many countries. Instead, a design may be protected by something called "protection of form" and the more traditional copyright when the product enters the market with an recognizable labeling, witch is the copyright protected item. The recent news about Microsoft wanting to create a single global patent system comes out as even more bizarre since Microsoft would be the one to lose their stockholder value.

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

reebmmm (939463) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Don't be evil? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298671)

Always remember, Larry, Sergey and Eric have a controlling voting interest in Google, none of the other shareholders particularly matter.

Design patent != Normal Patent... (5, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298207)

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.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298265)

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.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298911)

How is it intuitive - and in a way that is highly non-obvious such that experts in the field would not develop the same idea?

Text fields with buttons beneath surely has prior art anyway - why does doing it for a search engine make it any more novel? Also, surely it should be the creators of the first web browser or creators of the HTML Form code that get the patent? I mean, people have brought up Apple as an example, but at least they were the ones who wrote the code for the UI. In this case, Google did not. It would be like a Mac application developer trying to patent part of Apple's UI toolkit!

Google were the first ones to design a decent search engine. That's got nothing to do with the interface - and the only thing notable about the interface is that it was less cluttered (thus loaded faster) than other search engines of the time. (And I do hope you're not suggesting that should be patented - there's plenty of prior art for that, anyway.)

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (4, Funny)

nycguy (892403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298295)

So next time I hear someone talk about intelligent design, I'm going to ask them to show me God's patents.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298315)

And given we can make a clear distinction between the two kinds of patents, what justification is there for design patents at all? The fact that a company like Apple have loads is hardly a ringing endorsement - next you'll be telling me it's okay, because MS have them too.

If they're worried about distinctive look and feel, that's the domain of trademark law. If an interface might be a creative work, that's a copyright issue.

Why on earth should it be considered an invention? Next you'll have people winding us up by saying if I create a search page with two buttons below it, it should be a criminal offence [bbc.co.uk] .

Anyhow, I hereby declare a patent for a search box with three buttons below it. See how innovative I am?

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298449)

Please read up on design patents [wikipedia.org] . They protect only the decorative, non-functional elements of a design.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298915)

A canonical example of design patent is the US design patent 48,160 of Nov. 16 1915. It covers the original Coke bottle.

Trademark law is not applicable here. Trademarks are signs or badges. I'm not sure whether bottle's shape can be considered a "badge". A Web page is surely not a badge. A badge is something you affix to a thing to identify its origin, not the thing itself.

Copyright law is not applicable here either. Copyright covers expressions of ideas. There's no distinct identifiable idea behind a bottle's shape, or a Web page look-and-feel.

Design patents in general may or may not be justified, but there's little overlap between them and other kinds of "intellectual property".

That said, I don't think this particular DP of Google is justified.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298369)

If that were the case, then a trademark (trade dress) would be more appropriate than a patent.
  • Top bar -- not novel
  • Central logo -- not novel
  • Central form input -- not novel
  • Grouped hyperlinks -- not novel
  • Central copyright and link to privacy statement -- not novel

My experience is in mechanical engineering and yes, design patents are usually for functional items (eg: cutting a groove down the edge of a component to allow easy access with a screwdriver etc...). For every innovative design patent, you'll find several that are glaringly obvious even to those unskilled in the art.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (1)

MadJo (674225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298415)

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.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (4, Insightful)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Design patent != Normal Patent... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298615)

If this were Microsoft you fucktarded shitdot sheeple would be behind your fucktarded butt-buddy twitter by saying "M$ is teh evil!!! Litigate them out of existence" Of course you shitdot sheeple are nothing more than a bunch of communist fucktarderd fudgepackers who should go ans slit your fucking wrists.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY!

Before everyone jumps on this (5, Insightful)

BeardsmoreA (951706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298229)

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.

Re:Before everyone jumps on this (1)

095 (710782) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298401)

If they don't defend it then it has no power.

Re:Before everyone jumps on this (1)

jisatsusha (755173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298513)

No, you're thinking of trademarks.

defensive patenting (5, Insightful)

rackeer (1607869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298241)

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:defensive patenting (2, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298603)

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).

Oh Joy (2, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298245)

Re:Oh Joy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298955)

And of course combine that with one-way extradition treaties, and the lack of speedy justice in the USA (someone has been in jail 14 months for not disclosing the root passwords of a network to unqualified people), and it seems we are all doomed, wherever we live.

It makes sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298247)

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Although I wonder if they'll be using the patent to go after competitors, or just getting it to prevent being patent trolled themselves.

Similarities (2, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Evil is still debatable. (1)

IntricateEnigma (148093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298269)

Google does many things better then other people. Now they're a huge company, but that doesn't mean they must be evil. I can't say that this patent means much except that their covering their rears. If they hold the patent, its unlikely anyone can file a similar one and drag them into a big lawsuit.
It's not how ridiculous your patent is. It's how you use it.

Hmm (1)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298273)

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.

Re:Hmm (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298695)

They have their search buttons at the side of the box, not underneath.

Please read the patent (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298283)

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 start screaming about Google at this point because I disagree with their methodology. They have a reason for getting these patents, and for all the patents that they've generated, there are few examples where they've used it as anything but a defensive weapon.

Re:Please read the patent (4, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298339)

There must be some functionality that is patented, so I doubt the patent is just "a search box with a couple buttons".

It's a design patent, not a patent. That is, a patent on visual arrangement of elements.

Re:Please read the patent (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298355)

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.

They're not free. You pay by providing Google with loads of data. This data is quite valuable to Google.

Marissa Mayer and Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298313)

After reading the article and the links about Mayer, the axiom that life isn't fair has been proven to me again without a doubt. I have now completely given up hope and I'm going walk around with a sandwich board muttering "Bullshit -bullshit-bullshit-....".

Before you start foaming at the mouth... (5, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298345)

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

Re:Before you start foaming at the mouth... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298571)

...note that this a is a design patent [wikipedia.org] . 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 [csszengarden.com] 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:Before you start foaming at the mouth... (3, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298703)

I have rabies. I can't help it.

Don't hate the player, hate the game. (3, Interesting)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298349)

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 (2, Informative)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298383)

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"

Re:Google Reality Check (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298657)

"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:Google Reality Check (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298687)

No.

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.

As Microsoft cleans up its act and its wares... (1)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298423)

Google fills the evil void. Maybe they can patent a two-hour email outage for paying customers too?

Re:As Microsoft cleans up its act and its wares... (1)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298437)

Additionally, I claim prior art.

Re:As Microsoft cleans up its act and its wares... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298663)

I think all webmasters who made early webpages with HTML 1.0 could claim prior art.

Well all the early webmasters except the ones that place those annoying GIF animations on their pages... They deserve nothing ;).

Has Google been losing its luster, lately? (5, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Has Google been losing its luster, lately? (3, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298629)

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.

Patent "Beta" too (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298475)

They should patent "The use of beta software for extented periods" too.

Google was not the first to do this. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298495)

Re:Google was not the first to do this. (2, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298863)

There aren't two buttons underneath the search bar and there's a LOT more text on the page.

The patent is very specific about the layout. Try again.

Appear to not do Evil! (5, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#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...

If this was Microsoft... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298613)

I love hearing people going "But wait, it's not THAT evil! Think of it like this...". If this was Microsoft everyone would be shitting on them, going "Microsoft being an evil dickwad as normal...". But I guess that's the popular band wagon Google love/Microsoft hate train of /.

Re:If this was Microsoft... (1)

pm_rat_poison (1295589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298971)

give it a few years and ppl will start hating google, too

So much for "Do no evil" (3, Insightful)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 4 years ago | (#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: http://web.archive.org/web/19961023234707/http://www.webcrawler.com/ [archive.org] ).

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.

ma8e (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298635)

maintained that too OS don't 7ear the

Better Google than a patent troll (2, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298765)

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.

Re:Better Google than a patent troll (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298891)

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.

+1 insightful

Good point. How would you protect yourself from patent infringement? How would you go about patent reform. It's like a disarmament problem: It's better to hold weapons superiority then ask others to disarm and as a show of good faith disarm enough to remove most of your superiority... tactically you haven't changed the situation but you *have* made gestures that you support the idea of disarmament. I mean, what would it look like if it was a nation with no weapons asking for disarmament? "Hey, guys, put down those weapons or I'll start sobbing." Versus: "look, see we all have weapons, let me put one of mine down... okay... now you..."

I suppose patents are similar. The big companies are caught up in a patent arms race and who sounds more convincing? A guy with no patents arguing for patent reform? The guy with patents and as much to lose as anyone willingly handing over their patents?

The Pirate Bay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298839)

Haha so now the Pirate Bay is infringing on just another patent... its homepage.

Hard to be (2, Insightful)

Derosian (943622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29298899)

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.

Love it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29298959)

I love how some people can be so quick to say, "As long as..." "Everyone else is..." "They are just protecting..." "They are just showing how idiotic..." blah, blah, blah, yet so quick to fire off at the lips if another company does something like this, that they are evil, money grubbing, and wanting to rule the world.

It's so unbelieveable idiotic, it cracks me up how people can be so brainwashed. Wake up sheep, hyprocrits! LMAO.

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