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USPTO Gives Google Patent For Doodles

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the omg-ponies dept.

Businesses 150

theodp writes "After a 10-year struggle, the USPTO was convinced to issue Google a patent Tuesday for Systems and Methods for Enticing Users to Access a Web Site, aka Google Doodles. Among other things, Google explains that the invention of co-founder Sergey Brin covers modifying a company logo with 'a turkey for Thanksgiving' and 'a leprechaun's pot of gold for Saint Patrick's Day.' To help drive home its point, Google included an illustration showing the USPTO that hearts could be displayed on the Google home page for Valentine's, which would be deja-vu-all-over-again for the 394 lovers who used the UIUC PLATO system on Feb. 14th, 1975."

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Prior art (4, Insightful)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576498)

10000BC, caves.

Re:Prior art (3, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576548)

Yes, but this is USING COMPUTERS! That makes is a completely different, novel invention worthy of protection.

Re:Prior art (2)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35579236)

And not at all obvious.

Re:Prior art, then how about this (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#35579318)

So from the /. blurb there is this prior art: Google home page for Valentine's, which would be deja-vu-all-over-again for the 394 lovers who used the UIUC PLATO system on Feb. 14th, 1975

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576708)

The game Dark Castle would automatically change the decor of rooms based on which holiday season it was way back in the 1980/1990s

Re:Prior art (1)

equex (747231) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577184)

VLC media player will turn into a Santa Claus-hat instead of the usual orange cone during xmas.

Re:Prior art (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577258)

Goddammit, you assholes post this crap in every story on patents. Can you fucking read the patent before you claim something is prior art (hint: NONE OF THIS CRAP IS PRIOR ART FOR THE PATENT IN QUESTION).

Re:Prior art (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577638)

No.

Everyone replying seriously is whooshed. I wasn't serious. I RTFA after posting, knowing the title was a hyperbole.

Re:Prior art (2)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577660)

Prior, Schmior.

The patent, as shown by the myriad other examples given before, is BLOODY FUCKING OBVIOUS and never should have been granted if the US patent office were not goddamn overworked and judged on the "metric" of how many patents they grant each year.

Re:Prior art (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578386)

Oh come on. You know that you are supposed to defer to the PTO [slashdot.org] because of their superior knowledge!!!

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577800)

Agreed!

This decision is pants!

1996 Prior Art from Smalltown ISP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35578416)

http://web.archive.org/web/19961219163346/http://www.infowest.com/

My local ISP would change their web site for the holidays back in the mid '90s. Perhaps the above link doesn't quite count because the animated GIFs (hehe, it WAS the '90s) weren't directly integrated into the ISP's name?

Re:Prior art, more recent and more applicable (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#35579282)

Google home page for Valentine's, which would be deja-vu-all-over-again for the 394 lovers who used the UIUC PLATO system on Feb. 14th, 1975

sigh. (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576530)

very heavy sigh.

Re:sigh. (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576636)

very heavy sigh.

Indeed. I googled stupid patents [google.com] and it came up with 1,530,000 results. When I change it to stupid patents google [google.com] I get 5,440,000 results. Hmmm, I wonder what that's about?

Re:sigh. (1)

repka (1102731) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576972)

I guess things like your comment would show up only under the latter search.

Re:sigh. (1)

Lion XL (1849898) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577292)

It's about you sounding pretty dumb.......the words are queried by 'OR''s not 'AND''S.....so those extra 3mil+ words contained the word 'GOOGLE'.......

Re:sigh. (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578268)

Searching for "+stupid +patents +google" (making them all "ands") gives 733000 results. :p

Pants. (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578424)

I misread .. and here to tell you that "stupid pants google" gives 13,800,000 results.

I hope... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35578452)

I hope Google's just doing this to embarrass the USPTO. Now that it's been granted, though, I'm sure the patent office will defend it to the hilt. Triple sigh...

Re:sigh. (0)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576650)

More like a facepalm for sighing. Google doesnt' sue for patents, they just use them to protect themselves. So I wouldn't worry about them so much as oh, you know, microsoft, oracle, apple? duh.

Re:sigh. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576724)

what's to keep them from "protecting themselves" by restricting small companies and other people,? I and thousands of other people and companies put enticing doodles on our websites long before google existed

Re:sigh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576818)

You mean they don't sue 'yet' over patents. They do however sue people and businesses, and even the government when they don't like something.

Re:sigh. (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576946)

So instead of the USPO declining such stupid ideas Google gets to be the "Good Guys(TM)" and let you put hearts on your site during Valentines Day and snow flakes during winter? Wow that's great.

Re:sigh. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577220)

I too would like confirmation on this assertion. Can it be said that Google has never initiated a law suit a party over patents? Can anyone refute this claim? (I know, proving a negative... so I am seeking a positive to disprove a negative)

Also, do we have any word or statement from Google that they will not sue another party for patent infringement?

Re:sigh. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577980)

What would be even better is if even Google didn't get the patent. Then Google didn't have to not sue anybody.
I've been doing holiday flavoured themes (including logo's) for my own website(s) long before I ever touched Google, and I got the idea from other sites that have been doing this far before. Perhaps some of these sites were the inspiration for Google to do the same with their own logo.
Either way the PLATO prior-art proves Google is in the wrong. The only honorable thing Google can do now is to release the patent into the public domain.

Re:sigh. (1)

colesw (951825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578290)

Well to be fair the PLATO system didn't modify their logo, they just added a "heart" to the top of the screen. Google actually makes custom logos.
A better example of prior art would be Blue's News
http://www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/logos.pl [bluesnews.com]
As you we can see the first christmas logo was for 2000, a few months before google submitted their application.

Re:sigh. (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577400)

You have no idea. I help administrate/develop a couple of websites and I was asked to start cycling out the background and logo depending on the holiday and time of year.

This patent is so fucking stupid it's ridiculous. Now Google is the only one that gets to do that? Really?

Mind blowing stupidity. Now I have to inform several website owners of the patent when they ask this so they are at least informed of possible patent infringement.

Re:sigh. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577936)

Not saying yes. Not saying no.
Just saying that maybe. Just maybe you can have something a little bit similar and Google will not go after you.
If they did not try to patent it you can bet your ass some group of (should be murdered by the hands of their own children) lawyers will patent it and I am sure they would sue not only Google but every other site out there using anything that can almost be called similar.

So maybe. Just maybe this is a better thing.

Re:sigh. (2, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578776)

The blame does not lie with Google. It does not lie with the unholy lawyers that would be (are) parasites on humanity by abusing the patent.

The blame DOES lie with the USPTO. They should have shredded the application, put in a box, shit in the box, and sent it back to Google.

I don't blame a child when they get into trouble doing something stupid that was condoned, supervised, and encouraged by the parents. I blame the parents.

****

If Google really was doing this for our benefit as part of their Do No Evil campaign then they should immediately come out with a press release announcing a FRAND patent license to the entire world that involves a zero dollar licensing fee. Even still, that would not be necessary if the USPTO was not so hopelessly fucktarded.

I'm not sure if it is hyperbole to claim at this point somebody could get a patent on breathing.

Ridiculous. (2)

tracygold (1997826) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576546)

Just ridiculous.

Re:Ridiculous. (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576932)

So, did you read the patent claims, or just the typically misleading /. summary?

Re:Ridiculous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35578954)

So, did you read the patent claims, or just the typically misleading /. summary?

So IS the summary misleading? Or are you throwing out a rouge colored fish?

How original (1)

Patrick May (305709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576572)

Aren't patents supposed to be for ideas that aren't obvious?

Re:How original (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576654)

No, they're to protect anything a company does against anything any other company, person, government, alien, etc., does, wants to do, may do, or even has done in the past, so long as the applying company can throw enough money at the issue to ensure that the application is too long/large/obfuscated for anyone to actually read, and so the USPTO, in an effort to "clear the backlog" will just rubber stamp it. Everyone wins!

Re:How original (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576660)

Aren't patents supposed to be for ideas that aren't obvious?

Hey, that's a pretty novel idea you've got there. Why not patent it? You can avoid the 'prior art' and 'obviousness' issues by simply checking the 'Super New Idea' and 'I Was First, Pinky Swear!' boxes on the patent application form.

Re:How original (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576722)

If penalties for perjury on patent applications were even half decent that would actually be a good idea.

Re:How original (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578432)

Aren't patents supposed to be for ideas that aren't obvious?

Hey, that's a pretty novel idea you've got there. Why not patent it? You can avoid the 'prior art' and 'obviousness' issues by simply checking the 'Super New Idea' and 'I Was First, Pinky Swear!' boxes on the patent application form.

You forgot "on the Internet".

All ideas are patentable if you add, "On the Internet" to them. It's like a game...

Re:How original (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576676)

Yeah, so? It never stopped any of the various computer related patents.

10 years (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576792)

Aren't patents supposed to be for ideas that aren't obvious?

Filing: 2001
Granting: 2011

Obviously it wasn't that obvious.

Re:10 years (1)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577398)

Filing: 2001
Granting: 2011

You think ten years is a long time? Back in the Dialup days of the 80s (35 years ago) it was common for BBSes to change their logos to celebrate holidays. For example "TNT BBS" might suddenly become "Turkey and Tater Tots" BBS for a day. Google's idea is no more original than multitasking, or multiple screening desktops.

Aside-

Also back in the 80s, my telephone company (AT&T) tried to charge an extra fee because I owned a modem that connected my computer to the phoneline ~16 hours a day. They argued I was abusing my "unlimited local calling" privileges, and should either pay $20 extra each month, or 10 cents per call. i.e. Pay my fair share. I threw the letter in the trash.

Unlimited means unlimited. Now the modern ATT and others are trying to charge extra if you use your cellphone to hook-up your computer. Some ideas get recycled again and again.

Re:10 years (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578500)

Unlimited has always meant "You can do whatever you want with it, as long as we allow it." It has never meant, "You can use as much of it as you want". Well, at least not to the lawyers. To us regular folks, unlimited means without limit, where limit is any restriction or disallowance.

Re:How original (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576910)

The obviousness part is usually handled by the courts, not by the USPTO.

Lately they've done a great job. The most recent Supreme Court precedent says that it has to be non-obvious in the context of wanting to achieve the same result.

So if you apply that here, it would have to be non-obvious in the context of wanting to change the logo on special events.

It has received derision from some here that the court left open the possibility of business method patents, but they didn't give any examples and seemed skeptical. It would have to be an actual technology, not just a different way of doing things. The mistake most of these patents make is that they include intent as part of the patent. That makes it easy to challenge.

Re:How original (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577082)

The obviousness part is usually handled by the courts, not by the USPTO.

Oh, Really [slashdot.org] ?

The feds don't seem to agree:

The US solicitor general, which represents the federal government in the Supreme Court, on Friday filed an amicus brief in support of i4i, saying that the US Patent and Trademark Office should not be second-guessed by a jury.

If they take away recourse to the courts, then they better get the obviousness part sorted out before they grant the bloody thing. Because, as it stands right now, you can patent things which everyone else feels is obvious ... the USPTO just pushes it through and lets the courts decide so they can get paid and move on with filling their quota.

Re:How original (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577908)

Because a backwater of the executive branch keeps asking the court to change it's mind and let them do whatever they want, doesn't tell us anything about, or contradict, precedent.

Re:How original (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577958)

Because a backwater of the executive branch keeps asking the court to change it's mind and let them do whatever they want, doesn't tell us anything about, or contradict, precedent.

I hope you're right, I really do. But, I really have visions of the Solicitor General establishing a new precedent saying that the USPTO's decisions should be final.

That would be bad.

Re:How original (1)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578204)

That's not who establishes precedent.

Re:How original (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578346)

That's not who establishes precedent.

Sorry, yes. I'm hoping the courtswon't use the amicus brief to establish a new precedent that sides with the solicitor general that says the USPTO shouldn't be second guessed by a jury.

For more specific legal advice, contact a lawyer. ;-)

Re:How original (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578948)

I made that mistake too, paying attention to the spin from the summary/article instead of what the brief says, someone was kind enough to point it out to me.

"The clear-and-convincing-evidence standard also furthers the reliance interests created by a patent grant by affording the patent holder enhanced protection against an erroneous jury finding of invalidity. By allowing a lay jury to second-guess the PTO's judgment even in close cases, the preponderance standard would diminish the expected value of patents and would reduce future inventors' incentives to innovate and to disclose their inventions to the public."

It comes off as really inflammatory until the third or fourth time you read it. He doesn't say take the jury out of the equation, he is advocating that the standard the jury should use in overruling the Patent Office should be "clear and convincing evidence standard" instead of the "preponderance standard" that Microsoft is arguing should be applied. So he's douchey , but not evil douchey.

Re:How original (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576912)

Remember how Sun built up its patent portfolio? Engineers would try to write the most inane shit in a contest to see what they could slip past the USPTO's radar. It was all in good nature... at the time. I suspect the Google Doodles patent must have come from something similar. It's obvious that if Google ever tried to litigate someone with it, the judge would spend most of his or her time laughing. If Google could patent "patenting irrelevant crap to test the USPTO's ability to detect said crap," they would probably try.

Computer Doodles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576638)

Isn't is funny how the computer doodles are rarely about computer people though?

I've been requesting Alan Turing [google.com] for a long time, and it would be nice if they finally did one for his birthday or something.

Re:Computer Doodles (1)

GoNINzo (32266) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576664)

And it helps to be signed into post correctly. Oh well. Please support an Alan Turing Google Doodle. Submit the idea to proposals@google.com.

Self defence? (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576688)

Have hyper-litigious, like Microsoft, created an environment where every silly idea must be patented just out of self defence?

If Google did not patent this, Microsoft would have; then Microsoft would have sued Google over it's use.

Re:Self defence? (1)

noahm (4459) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576830)

If Google did not patent this, Microsoft would have; then Microsoft would have sued Google over it's use.

People still have this delusion that Google is not evil. Amazing.

Re:Self defence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577036)

But Microsoft is a worse kind of evil. Google are only evil sometimes.

Grandparent is correct. Microsoft would have sued the ass off of anyone if they got a patent on this.
Of course, they don't doodle anyway. So it doesn't really apply to them.

Surprised Microsoft hasn't sued anyone for using their patented method of showing emotions in E-mails. (smilies in e-mails, i shit you not [zdnet.co.uk] )

Re:Self defence? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577986)

Microsoft is a moderate sort of evil. Apple, now Apple is pure evil.

That's why they've had so much difficulty producing a white iPhone. They'd build them, and they'd all turn black due to Apple's evilness.

Re:Self defence? (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35579088)

Mi©®$oft is just as evil as Apple, those Wall Street boys are just trying to appeal to capitalists to get AAPL over $500.

Re:Self defence? (1)

TC Wilcox (954812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576854)

Have hyper-litigious, like Microsoft, created an environment where every silly idea must be patented just out of self defence?

If Google did not patent this, Microsoft would have; then Microsoft would have sued Google over it's use.

What makes you think Microsoft has anything to do with this? I mean, come on.... We have a story about google patenting something stupid and somehow it is Microsoft's fault?

Re:Self defence? (0)

praxis (19962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578798)

Patents are only meaningful *because* of others. If I were the only person in the world, I wouldn't patent anything as no one else could beat me to the punch and require me to pay them fees, etc. The fact that another company exists that may patent the idea first and extract payment is quite a logical reason to consider a patent. This of Microsoft as an example of a hyperlitigious company used as an example. As a discussion as to why one might patent an idea such as this, bringing up being first to do so due to hyperlitigious company's is a good point of discussion.

You disagree I see, but bringing up Microsoft is apropos.

Re:Self defence? (1)

TC Wilcox (954812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35579202)

Patents are only meaningful *because* of others. If I were the only person in the world, I wouldn't patent anything as no one else could beat me to the punch and require me to pay them fees, etc. The fact that another company exists that may patent the idea first and extract payment is quite a logical reason to consider a patent. This of Microsoft as an example of a hyperlitigious company used as an example. As a discussion as to why one might patent an idea such as this, bringing up being first to do so due to hyperlitigious company's is a good point of discussion.

You disagree I see, but bringing up Microsoft is apropos.

But why call Microsoft out specifically? Why not any other software company? Does Microsoft litigate more than other large software companies? How about other groups that spend as much on research as they do? Does Microsoft have a higher percentage of stupid lawsuits than say, Apple, IBM, or even Google? And if this story was about Microsoft instead of Google would you say that they have to do it to defend themselves from the stupid patents of other companies (for example, Google)?

And besides, the stupidest Microsoft patent lawsuit that I can think of is long filenames in FAT, but even that is a very different from doodles. Is there another stupid Microsoft patent lawsuit that I am forgetting?

To me, as someone who has never worked at Microsoft (despite being offered a job) and almost never uses Microsoft products, it sounds like Microsoft bashing.

Re:Self defence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577076)

Mr. President of Google Sir!

We must not allow a Doodle gap!

Enforcable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576692)

They can have the patent. Can they enforce it though? Google wasn't the first website I've seen to customize their logo based on events.

Then again, I don't think they're patenting the changing of the logo. I think they're more patenting customizing search results based on the event if you read the patent. Again though, can they enforce this? Seems to me they'd have to prove that the site is using the functionality to entice users to visit? What if I wanted to do this just for fun?

Re:Enforcable? (2)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576980)

It's actually even narrower than merely a special event logo. The first claim covers special event logos that includes one or more animated images. The claims only covers their animated and their interactive doodles, but doesn't cover doodles of just static images. Thus, their Pacman doodle is covered, but their July 4th doodle consisting of a painting isn't.

Not that it isn't still pretty bad. It's a dumb patent, but it's also really narrow.

Next Up (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576742)

A method to leave people speechless.

CC.

doesn't this cover ANYTHING? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576778)

what about the random quotes that slashdot has? maybe i'm enticed to return to slashdot in order to see what the latest quote says. how does this not include any and all content on any and all web sites, where the content occasionally changes in order to entice people to return and see what changed?

Re:doesn't this cover ANYTHING? (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576894)

No, it only covers special event logos.

Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576798)

Flat out evil.

christmas (1)

hosecoat (877680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576808)

i patent putting lights up on my house at christmas and wearing green during st paddys. I call it Systems and Methods for Enticing Strangers to Associate based on Appearance.

Great... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35576814)

Google just patented the Message of the Day...

Re:Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35578666)

Great! Lookie here, guess who is infringing on this patent [sco.com] ?

idiocracy tag? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35576834)

Why doesn't every post about the USPTO automatically have an "idiocracy" tag?

Re:idiocracy tag? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577006)

The idiocracy mainly comes about from Slashdotters who don't know (a) how patents work or (b) how to examine patent applications.

The USPTO is hiring. If you think you can make a difference, and you're a US citizen with at least a Bachelor's in an engineering field, and you can relocate to the Alexandria, Virginia, area, you might consider applying.

Re:idiocracy tag? (1)

IgnitusBoyone (840214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577274)

Why I am a huge advocate of patent reform is this worth giving up my pay check for? Can, I just do it part time like if I reviewed work for journals. How much does a USPTO officer get paid?

Re:idiocracy tag? (2)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578130)

Caveat and mea culpa: I just checked the website at http://www.usptocareers.gov/ [usptocareers.gov] , and it turns out that the job vacancies are currently closed. Probably something to do with Congress still not passing a real budget, and the USPTO doesn't want to have people relocate to NOVA if the government is just going to shut down immediately afterwards. Hiring will undoubtedly start again once the budget situation is resolved, especially if Congress also passes the patent reform bill that would give the USPTO fee-setting authority and access to all the collected fees.

The part time program is extremely limited in scope. Also, you have to relocate so you can attend the training academy and interact with primary and supervisory examiners while you're still a junior examiner.

Starting pay for examiners depends on your incoming education or experience. People fresh out of college with a Bachelor's will generally get paid at GS-5 at a high in-grade step, and if you have a Master's or other qualifying job experience, you could come in at a high GS-7 or GS-9. Top end for primary examiners is GS-14, achievable in 4 to 6 years. After you've been there for a long time, this puts you close to the statutory salary cap. In any case, sticking around long enough will put you into six figures.

Translation into actual numbers:

http://www.usptocareers.gov/Pages/Misc/SalaryRates.aspx [usptocareers.gov]

Benefits are extremely good. In addition to the standard benefits that all federal employees get (great health care, life insurance, pension, 401(k) equivalent with 5% matching, and 4/6/8 hours of paid annual and sick leave per biweek at 0/3/15 years of service), the USPTO has the federal government's flagship telework program which allows qualifying examiners (GS-12, fully successful rating, and having passed the certification exam (which is similar to the patent bar exam but shorter)) to work from home. Before that, there is a very flexible flextime schedule that comes close to letting you arrive and leave as you please, as long as you get in your 80 hours per biweek.

There are downsides, of course. One, it removes you from true engineering such that if you stay long enough, you'd better be interested enough in patent law to make a career out of it. Two, your work is metered based on a production quota, and if you have trouble meeting your quota, it can be stressful. Three, the work itself can be mind-numbing, as in many tech areas you'll be examining applications drafted with a tenuous grasp on the English language, and claim language is often intentionally vague.

And one thing to keep in mind is that you can't really make as big a difference as I let on earlier. You can do a superb job searching for prior art and making solid rejections, but ultimately, if you can't come up with a legally sound rationale for rejecting the claims, you have to allow the application. The USPTO is bound by the law, and if you try to make up your own reasoning for rejecting a claim without case law to back it up, you really just end up making more work for yourself. And if you spend too much time searching and searching for things that are extremely obscure in the prior art, you won't make production.

Re:idiocracy tag? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578676)

And if you spend too much time searching and searching for things that are extremely obscure in the prior art, you won't make production.

That sounds like the problem, right there. If I can approve a patent and move on and get 1 point, or search, search and search then deny a patent and get 1 point, guess how I'm going to play the game.
Patents should be for extraordinary stuff. Denying a patent should at least get you a party with cake and ice cream. (:-)
There should be bonuses for every successful search and denied patent.
If the Patent office relies on case law to deny patents, then that's another big problem. Most obvious stuff that people are doing and have been doing for centuries doesn't have a lot of case law, because it's FREAKING OBVIOUS.

Re:idiocracy tag? (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577412)

The USPTO is hiring. If you think you can make a difference...

I sincerely doubt they are hiring people who think they can make a difference. More like people willing to cope with the backlog for 10-15 years.
Perks include: "Meet Our Customers" Junkets, Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays. And Taco Tuesdays.

Re:idiocracy tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577442)

Yes, so you can get paid $40,000 per year to constantly drone over 600 page patent applications full of snow and fluff designed to appear innovative, all in an area where a 1-bedroom apartment costs $1600/month.

No thanks.

FWIW, IWAPE

Re:idiocracy tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577496)

> with at least a Bachelor's in an engineering field

Well there's the problem. University graduates who think they know everything because they shuffled through a three-year degree course, copying each other's work the night before the due date.

Perhaps if the applicant had to demonstrate 10 years attested experience in the field of work I'd be more impressed.

evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577042)

Proving once again that "do no evil" really means "do no evil when people are watching"

Slashdot will be in violation (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577122)

Slashdot will be in violation of this patent in about a week and a half :)

Re:Slashdot will be in violation (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577148)

The ponies aren't coming back. It's... it's time to let go. *sniff*

Re:Slashdot will be in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577806)

This year it will be Justin Beeber theme!

IBM also files lots of dubious patents (1)

billrp (1530055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577124)

It seem Google is just following IBM's path of patent anything/everything - just in case. In one very narrow band of technology that I'm familiar with, IBM files about 5 patent apps a year, and each one that I've read is simply common knowledge and widely implemented by the other 100 or so people in the world also familiar with this technology/engineering.

Re:IBM also files lots of dubious patents (1)

IgnitusBoyone (840214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577308)

It is sad that the system supports this mentality. Its fairly expensive to get a patent if you are not established, but rather trivial if you already have a legal department.

Read the claims (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35577206)

The patent is very narrow and specific, and is unlikely to be useful in court. For example: the doodle needs to be based on a standard company logo, as opposed to a logo for a product or service, or other image. The new logo must be created to reflect a special event. It has to modify the original standard company logo, and it must include one or more animated images. There must be a link or search results associated with the image, which are triggered by selecting the image, and they must be related to the special event.

Dangerous Patent (1)

frinkster (149158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577216)

In any patent litigation, the inventor(s) of a patent can be deposed by the defendants. In this particular patent, the other side can force Sergey Brin to sit in front of a video camera for hours and answer all manner of questions about Google Co. The relevance of those questions is given a lot of latitude. Then, that video and a transcript become public documents in the lawsuit.

This is not something Google wants to do.

Don't be evil... ok (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577460)

But what the hell is this?

How about don't be ridiculous too?

Holy Shit I Hate that Fucking Thing (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577522)

It being patented is just doubly stupid.

So if I have enough money (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577658)

I could just come up with "if user does this, then something is done when sensing a users action, which entices the user to perform an action, which leads that person to some place of my choice.

SO can I patent this

Say I have an e-commerce site and the lowest profit margin I need to make is 30% on each sale/item.

A user at my sites selects one or more items and when all those item(s), minus the shipping cost come out to 30%+ profit margin the shopping cart software then gives the user free shipping (also notifies the user with a "You qualify for Fee shipping" message) or possibly give the user discount on shipping just to make them feel better.

Re:So if I have enough money (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578018)

Thank you so much for making this prior art just now (assuming someone else hasn't already submitted a patent for this).

coalition for patent fairness (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 3 years ago | (#35577706)

And they say Google is a partner of the coalition for patent fairness (http://patentfairness.org/). What a joke.

Patents will become worthless (1)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578434)

By patenting these kinds of ridiculous things you are making the world laugh at you.
In time a real company with something really worth patenting, will not be able to protect their invention because nobody else in the world will
take American patents seriously. I cringe when I read about stuff like this and when you combine it with the criminal element in the American
corporate environment, it does not give people a favorable impression/outlook on American's in general.
Here in Canada American is rapidly becoming a dirty word.

Re:Patents will become worthless (1)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578758)

I think this is Google's attempt at satire - a spoof to show how ridiculous the patent system really is. Kind of like when they came out with TiSP.

former patent examiner here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35578586)

you must take the claims as a whole. claim 1 states: A non-transitory computer-readable medium that stores instructions executable by one or more processors to perform a method for attracting users to a web page, comprising: instructions for creating a special event logo by modifying a standard company logo for a special event, where the instructions for creating the special event logo includes instructions for modifying the standard company logo with one or more animated images; instructions for associating a link or search results with the special event logo, the link identifying a document relating to the special event, the search results relating to the special event; instructions for uploading the special event logo to the web page; instructions for receiving a user selection of the special event logo; and instructions for providing the document relating to the special event or the search results relating to the special event based on the user selection.

EVERYTHING listed there is required. it's a pretty narrow patent if you ask me. it's stupid and in my opinion dubious, but they're entitled to it. i'm a former examiner and i've come across many, many outrageous applications. this one isn't all that absurd though.

Re:former patent examiner here (1)

ckeo (220727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35578670)

I'll take your word for it.
I'm not able to read that sort of mix due to my eyes going crossed halfway through the first sentence.

Only good for google, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35578808)

This is only good for Google, right? People have been adding favicon.ico to their websites root directory for a long time. Other sites have been modifying site imagery for a long time to denote certain events (emoticons in blogs, etc). So this patent only applies to Google, right? Anyone else wanting to modify an image on their site for a particular day can still do it right, because its not Googles site, its their own site. Where I live, the weather people give daily forecasts, and when its going to be sunny, there's a big yellow sun added as a graphic, rainy days have a rainy graphic, snow, sleet hail, etc all have their graphics. Likewise, I've seen sites putting up graphics for Christmas, Easter, (just like the calendars that have been hanging on my wall year after year for decades --yes sparky, a new one every year). Illuminating text (adding pictures) has been going on now for a long time now. Are not the Franciscans or Dominicans in possession of prior art? How about the Egyptians (the ones who built the pyramids)? I suspect there were peoples far more ancient than that adding pictures for specific days. Prior Art? Hell yeah.

WTF!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35578886)

If you actually read the patent and scroll to other references. Other references cited by the EXAMIER for f's sake. It has a link to a yahoo page from the way back machine from 1996 with the yahoo logo all decked out for Christmas. For the lazy: http://web.archive.org/web/19961223150621/http://www8.yahoo.com. Do you see the cute rudolf in the logo?

Can someone please explain to me when there is such clear and easy to find examples of prior art how this got patented? I was on BBS' that did this with ASCII graphics (hey that was all that could load reasonably on those 2400 and 9600 baud modems way back then!) eons ago. How does an examiner say, yep I see this was used before by at least 5 years, so enjoy your patent!

The more I read these patents you can tell they are written as such BS it is insane. Read this patent application. It is so horrifc sounding to try to describe the uniqueness of using a logo for different holidays to entice visitors to your site. Why? Because you should not be able to patent something so obvious and already done. So you make BS up to make it sound not obvious and include a flow chart to show how technical it is.

"In accordance with the purpose of the invention as embodied and broadly described herein, a computer-readable medium stores instructions executable by one or more processors to perform a method for attracting users to a web page. The computer-readable medium includes instructions for uploading an initial object in a story line to the web page and instructions for periodically uploading successive objects, following the initial object, to the web page according to the story line."

Give me a break. That sounds like what I used to write when I had to make sure my book report had at least 1,000 words. You just keep repeating yourself in different ways to make it up to the word count requirement.

Another gem:

"In another implementation consistent with the present invention, a server includes a memory that is configured to store instructions and a processor. The processor is configured to execute the instructions to upload an initial object in a story line to a site on a network and periodically upload successive objects, following the initial object, to the site according to the story line to entice users to return to the site."

A server includes memory that is configured to store instruction and a processor? Really a server has memory and processor, crap I would have never thought that. What is the point of this in the patent? What it is even describing that the memory and processor serves images, like it does on every other web server? Oh wait not images cause that would be too specific, but object, yeah objects sounds better.

I can keep going with the absurdity that is included in this patent. Like the drawings that illustrate a f'ing computer network. Why? No sh__ sherlock websites are served on a network with 1 or more clients being served. Oh be warned the USPTO is so idiotic you need quicktime to view the images. No wonder this patent sounds so genious to them. But seriously Figure 1 is an old school cloud in the middle representing the network and a bunch of devices with lightning to connect to the network.

I wonder if I can patent the process of granting patents. Then in a weird paradox I could stop all patents from being processed. Maybe I should try, just have to find a link to that BS generator.

So... (1)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35579312)

What would it take for the USPTO to reject a patent application (one which includes the phrase "on a computer")?

I know I'm safe (1)

PsiCTO (442262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35579380)

My grade one teacher had nothing good to say about my doodles, so I know that I'll never entice anyone to view my site.

(yes, I'm old enough not to have gone to kindergarten... maybe that would have changed me into a taget for the "murder" of Google lawyers).

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