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Google Businesses The Internet Patents

Google Patents the Design of Search Results Page 114

Posted by kdawson
from the look-and-feel dept.
prostoalex writes "ZDNet is reporting that USPTO issued a patent to Google, Inc. for 'ornamental design for a graphical user interface'. This is not, as ZDNet points out, a software patent (which is usually issued as a utility patent), but a design patent, which governs the look and feel of the product and prevents others from directly copying it." Ironic, given Google's recent slip-up of copying a Yahoo page. In news on the flipside, Google has launched a patent search service (in beta).
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Google Patents the Design of Search Results Page

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  • Do no evil (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:34AM (#17235236)
    Except occasionally.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:16AM (#17235772)
      What happens in China stays in China.

      -Eric

    • by PFI_Optix (936301)
      On the subject of them "copying" a Yahoo page:

      Has anyone thought that maybe, just maybe, that's a template provided by Microsoft? You know, since it's pitching the IE7 upgrade and all that.
      • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

        by Frankie70 (803801) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:40AM (#17236160)

        On the subject of them "copying" a Yahoo page:

        Has anyone thought that maybe, just maybe, that's a template provided by Microsoft? You know, since it's pitching the IE7 upgrade and all that.


        From the article [zawodny.com],
        Quote "And I've checked with our PR group to make sure that this wasn't just a template that Microsoft gave to all partners. It's not." Unquote.
        • Why use the words quote and unqoute when you are already using punctuation? For that matter, you could use <blockquote> or <quote>.
      • by EnderGT (916132)
        RTFA - Yahoo checked with MS, MS said "no templates provided".
    • Google is different from all other software companies and show that you CAN do business without resorting to "questionable" tactics. There's an obvious explanation here if you people would only care to look. The difference here is that...well you see......hey is that Britney Spears over there?!

      *runs for the hills*

    • Re:Do no evil (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fozzyuw (950608) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:43PM (#17238590)
      Do no evil...Except occasionally.

      Since we're linking to Jeremy's blog post, I thought it might be worth while to also post Matt Cutts blog [mattcutts.com] regarding this 'drama'. Matt acknowledges Googles mistake (and by Google, we mean a person(s) working for Google who first, thought copying a Yahoo! page was a good idea and 2) got through management approval to let it go live.)

      Matt also points out, probably more interesting, how Yahoo! is not entirely innocent [yahoo.com] when it comes to 'copying' what the competitor does. However, the comments on his page have an interesting discussion of which is truly worse? Copying UI/Layout/Design or Graphics/Layout/Design.

      This is a tough call for me (as a web programmer/developer). I can kind of go both ways on this one. Patents and such are always a difficult concept to talk about. On one hand, they protect inventor and innovators, while on the other hand they're a forced 'legal' monopoly of "If they make it, you cannot make it too". As an inventor, I'd hate to create something, be original, and have it copied. As an average everyday person, I'd hate for one company to control a product and prevent natural competition.

      In this sense, I cannot agree with myself on this situation. A photographer buys a Hamburger at a popular fast-food chain. Takes it home and opens it up and takes a photograph of it. A 2nd photographer see this photo (on the 1st photographers website) takes a hamburger from the same food-chain, and shoots a drastically similar photograph (the pickle is on the other side). A 3rd photographer cooked his own hamburger, and decided to take a photo of it, and has never seen photographer 1 or 2's photos, and his photo turns out to be almost the exact same image of the 1st photographer. Who's right? Who's wrong? Has a 'crime' (either moral, ethical, artistic, respectful, or legal) been committed?

      Regarding the Google vs Yahoo!, it raises another question... online media. Graphics/Photos (JPG, GIFs, PNGS, etc) are protected, but what about UI? Layout? Coding practices? If it 'looks' the same on a monitor, is it not like being a Photo? After all, I can take a screen-capture and make it one easily. So, should it be equally worse to copy ones layout or design? Or even use similar or the same color palettes?

      If I spend hours of time and money in R&D for the perfect usable interface, should my 'innovation' also be protected, the same as if I took the time to take a photo of something? After all, a layout/design is artistically placed in the same manner a photographer or painter choose the placement of objects in their shot and a designer chooses their color and brightness the same as a photographer or painter chooses theirs.

      Cheers,
      Fozzy

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TekPolitik (147802)

        A photographer buys a Hamburger at a popular fast-food chain. Takes it home and opens it up and takes a photograph of it.

        OK, that photographer has copyright in the image

        A 2nd photographer see this photo (on the 1st photographers website) takes a hamburger from the same food-chain, and shoots a drastically similar photograph (the pickle is on the other side).

        There has been actual copying and this is a breach of the first photographer's copyright.

        A 3rd photographer cooked his own hamburger, and decid

        • A 2nd photographer see this photo (on the 1st photographers website) takes a hamburger from the same food-chain, and shoots a drastically similar photograph (the pickle is on the other side).

          There has been actual copying and this is a breach of the first photographer's copyright.


          Actually, this isn't correct. The first photographer owns the copyright in HIS photo, the second photographer owns a copyright in HIS photo -- he hasn't copied the first photographer's photo, so there is no copyright infringement.
          • Actually, this isn't correct.

            IAAL - it is correct. If he used the original photo as the basis for his photo which is substantially the same, even if he reproduced it by means other than directly imaging the original photo, that is legally copying. Literal imaging is one way to copy, but not the only way.

            But just because somebody photographs something doesn't give them the right to keep others from taking an identical photograph.

            No, as long as the second photographer hasn't copied they can take an ide

            • IAAL - it is correct. If he used the original photo as the basis for his photo which is substantially the same, even if he reproduced it by means other than directly imaging the original photo, that is legally copying. Literal imaging is one way to copy, but not the only way.

              I'm not trying to start an argument or anything, but IAAL as well -- although I mainly work in patents, and only work in soft IP occassionally. Do you have a caselaw reference to support your argument, because this is not my understand
              • Wow lots of lawyers on slashdot nowadays. Might be a difference in venue though. IANAL but am pretty sure the other guy is right when it comes to belgian copyright law (and by extension, probably most western european). Not so sure about US specifics. I believe the way I have been thought about the subject (a while back) there had to be some sort of distinguishing value in the original photograph, i.e. it mainly relates to art where the position of people/objects is important to the end result.
              • Do you have a caselaw reference to support your argument

                First principles applicable to copyright in general apply here - there is nothing that is unique to photography. However you could take a look at Rogers v. Koons 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992) to see the way photography is protected by copyright - most notably that it does not require verbatim copying of the original image to infringe.

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        In this sense, I cannot agree with myself on this situation.
        In the true slashdot spirit you should really have started a flamewar with yourself then, rather than try to argue things out logically.

  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:35AM (#17235246) Journal
    should not exist.

    that's what's copyright is for!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dsaraujo (798502)
      Well, if you're talking hypothetically, in a better world, copyright shouldn't exist either. Go ahead, mod me troll, but the world would be better. :)
      • by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:17AM (#17235782) Journal
        then how can people make a living out of creating things for the public to enjoy? How can we encourage those to do it, and do it well when otherwise they wouldn't have the time and resources? Copyright protection is important in the regards, abusable, yes, but the advantages are worth more than the contrary. Additionally, I'm speaking of this within limits, not the draconian rules that some with to apply to copyrights...
        • by Sparr0 (451780)
          Patronage. Someone pays you to create a work, or to perform it, or to improve upon an existing work.
          • Yep, basically the same as is done now.

            Except if the patronage people/groups could make a profit off of distributing that work and sharing it with others, there would be a lot fewer groups. Effectively all music/tv/movie media would be the equivalent of what the independant and low-budget-for-donation-only groups do. I'm not saying those groups are all bad, but we'd still be missing a lot of quality stuff we have now.
            • The world may never know. It could go either way, because if everyone was free to use everything, without regard for copying others' work, then the "good guys" who didn't copy others would still be just as free to make their quality work. Maybe they'd have to get their income from other sources. Maybe more people would spend time creating content rather than just consuming it. Maybe TV commercials and a lot of advertising would go away. My, what a shame that would be!
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by srussia (884021)
          This reminds me of a conversation I had in a previous life some 7000 years ago.

          Og: Hey, I just got this crazy idea of connecting two round stones to the ends of a horizontal pole. It'll make it easier to haul stuff around.

          Me: Sounds great, but who will do your harvest duties while you build it? And how do you expect to get any money out of it, people will just copy you. I myself thought of this great tune, sang it to my wife and she loved it. But I'd never sing it public, they'd just learn it themselv
        • then how can people make a living out of creating things for the public to enjoy?

          Simple: they don't!

          What is it with everybody always assuming the world needs full-time professional artists?! The human race did just fine -- and in some places, is still doing fine -- with everyone having a "day job" and making folk art for fun!

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            then how can people make a living out of creating things for the public to enjoy?

            Simple: they don't!

            What is it with everybody always assuming the world needs full-time professional artists?! The human race did just fine -- and in some places, is still doing fine -- with everyone having a "day job" and making folk art for fun!

            So are you saying that it should be illegal for any artist to earn any money ever? Or do you think all "full-time professional artists" are subsidised by the government?

            In fa

            • So are you saying that it should be illegal for any artist to earn any money ever?

              How the Hell did you manage to imagine I said that? Quit the LSD, buddy!

              The original post said copyright shouldn't exist. You replied, questioning how people could make a living out of creating art -- a statement which implies that having the ability to a living out of creating art is somehow necessary. I was just pointing out that it's not actually necessary, which is not the same thing as saying that it should be prohibite

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Flwyd (607088)
          Copyright infringement is the sincerest form of flattery.
        • I've heard it argued that copyright/patents is the reason countries that have them are technologically more innovative than countries that don't have them.
        • Jesus Christ said that in the same manner that you give, it will be given TO you, and by the very same measure. I wonder if anybody at Google's legal staff has a notion of that.

          He also said that if somebody sues you for your shirt, give them your cloak as well. I guess that's his way of saying "have nothing to do with the law" and "give in to all confrontations (to gain rightesness)", "to be righteous while the LORD fights your battles".

          Its a strange set of beliefs, actually, and I don't know if I've ever
    • by GeffDE (712146)
      What about the analogue of "look and feel" patents in the analog (i.e. physical) world? Can you patent the design of something? Should you be able to? Yes.

      I'm sure that whoever makes those nice cushion things on pens got a patent, and I'm sure that's part of the user interface that makes it nicer. The patent on it makes sure that whoever invents it can profit from their work inventing it. Should that be unpatentable? The reason patents were invented were to protect innovation and invention. That
      • by GigsVT (208848)
        I'm sure that whoever makes those nice cushion things on pens got a patent, and I'm sure that's part of the user interface that makes it nicer.

        You can't get a design patent on that. You can only get a design patent on the nonfunctional parts of something. Since the pad serves a functional purpose of enhancing grip and comfort, you can't get a design patent on it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thebdj (768618)
      14 years vs. longer than our lifetime (there is stuff from my year of birth, 1982, that will not make public domain until long after my death). Hmmmm, let me think on that. Also, the design patents cover a lot of things that copyright and trademark were never meant to cover.
      • by mavenguy (126559)
        From 35 USC 171 [cornell.edu]:

        Whoever invents any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.
        The provisions of this title relating to patents for inventions shall apply to patents for designs, except as otherwise provided.

        In a nutshell design patents protect the ornamental design of an article of manufacture; utilitarian aspects play no part in evaluating this.

        To cover a functional aspect of a screen layout a reg

      • by nasch (598556)
        (there is stuff from my year of birth, 1982, that will not make public domain until long after my death).
        Let me help you out here. "All stuff from my year of birth, 1982, will not make public domain. Ever." There we go.
    • by GigsVT (208848) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:10AM (#17236702) Journal
      Wrong, Copyright does not cover look and feel of a software interface. Apple v Microsoft, and others.

      Design patents have existed forever. They are really no big deal. An item has to be almost exactly the same to infringe on them.
    • by Zordak (123132)
      Then you'd have to give copyright protection for the "look and feel" of stuff, which you currently cannot get. Considering that the 14-year lifespan of a design patent is about an order of magnitude shorter than the life span of a copyright (and significantly shorter than the life span of a utility patent), I'd say the design patent is the much better option.
    • by Arguendo (931986)
      Design patents and copyright are different forms of protection. For one, you don't have to "copy" the design to infringe under a design patent - you could have developed it independently and would still infringe. Under copyright law, you actually had to have copied it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:37AM (#17235266)
    Weren't "look and feel" patents prohibited in Lotus vs Borland? I thought this matter was settled long ago.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:45AM (#17235364)
      Design patents aren't "look and feel" they're "exact look". Unlike utility patents, a design patent covers one thing and one thing only: the decorative appearance of something. So I can make a doorknob that looks a particular way, and since it's a physical object and not a play, song, book, whatever, it's not copyrightable but with the design patent, I can prevent other companies from making the exact same doorknob. But I can't stop them from making a "kind of roundish square doorknob", which was the idea behind the feel part of the "look and feel" patent attempt.
      • by Scarblac (122480)
        But it's weird, isn't that what copyright is for? Why patent an exact look?
      • by danlock4 (1026420)
        But I can't stop them from making a "kind of roundish square doorknob"
        Is a "kind of roundish square doorknob" exactly like a "kind of squarish round doorknob"? ;-)
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by TheDoctor_MN (669362)
          Not according to the principles of design patents. Like the previous poster said....design patents cover the EXACT LOOK AND FEEL of the covered thing. Very hard to infringe, and very easy to work around. Put the text entry field in a different place in the browser window, and voila, the Google patent doesn't apply. Let's not get worked up in a lather over this folks. Cheers, Bob
      • So I can make a doorknob that looks a particular way, and since it's a physical object and not a play, song, book, whatever, it's not copyrightable

        I would say it should be classified as "sculpture" and be copyrighted instead, but since copyright lasts (effectively) forever and patents don't, I'm happier with the patent!

      • by Chris Burke (6130)
        Every so often, against all odds and despite all expectations, I learn something on /.
  • by sreekotay (955693) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:43AM (#17235332) Homepage
    Uh [yahoo.com] Oh [aol.com]... too [live.com] bad [ask.com]

    In theory a problem for all the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em (*ahem* confuse 'em?)" school of search destinations, but.. Google will never enforce the patent, so its probably moot...
    ----
    graphically speaking [kotay.com]
    • by finkployd (12902) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:13AM (#17235726) Homepage
      Google will never enforce the patent, so its probably moot...

      That is some scary thinking. Of course it would be silly for them not to enforce the patent now, they don't need to. What happens down the road though when google is not doing so well and stockholders and calling for blood? They will leverage any assets they have to turn a profit, they have little other choice. Then we will see just how damaging these "patent portfolios" can be.

      We will never see IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, or any other company with a huge patent portfolio go out of business under the current patent system. If all else fails, they will turn into the ultimate leech, a patent holding company bleeding off of everyone else. They stockholders will demand it, to not leverage an advantage they have when other people's money is at stake is criminal in the eyes of business.

      Finkployd
    • by AndrewNeo (979708)
      Well AOL is kind of an exception since their search just so happens to be powered by, uh, Google.

    • Google will never enforce the patent, so its probably moot...


      That's the fanboy defense. Google will never enforce till they are doing well.
      But the moment, Google starts making loses, starts getting screwed by some competitor,
      I am sure the option of using the patent will look good.

  • by AlHunt (982887) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:45AM (#17235370) Homepage Journal
    Sorry - I already patented putting words on blank web pages. Also graphics on blank web pages. I took out a 3rd patent on putting some combination of words and graphics together on a blank web page.

    The entire content of the World Wide Web is in violation of my patent rights. E-mail me for the address to which you may send payments.

    Assholes.

    • by spellraiser (764337) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:12AM (#17235696) Journal

      Oh yeah? Bring it on! [blankwebpage.com]

    • The entire content of the World Wide Web is in violation of my patent rights. E-mail me for the address to which you may send payments.

      Oooh, too bad for you -- I've already patented the business method of "trolling for patent royalties via email." So yeah, just forward all those payments to me and I we'll call it even, eh?

      • by AlHunt (982887)

        Oooh, too bad for you -- I've already patented the business method of "trolling for patent royalties via email."

        Damn, you almost got away with this. The problem is that your comment obviously infringes on my trademarked " Ironic Twist ". Looks like our attorneys will have to exchange nasty letters until they decide how much Microsoft will have to pay each of us to settle this matter out of court.

    • by DaveM753 (844913)
      Sorry, but your patents are irrelevant in these cases. Putting words, graphics and/or a combination of both renders the web page no longer blank.

      :P
  • Can't they give a linked list of vertical or horizontal ads or banners? What exactly has google patented?
  • Design? Google? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by popo (107611) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:48AM (#17235408) Homepage
    "Design" is a dangerous word to use here, since it seems to me that what we're
    really talking about it "organization". Afterall Google's result pages are
    about as graphics-lite as a page can possibly be. Furthermore, they're affected
    by client-side issues from screen-size to font settings. So the look of
    the results page is in many ways a matter of client side rendering.

    So I'm guessing we're talking about patenting the "organization" of data, and not
    the specific visual identity of the search results themselves. So.... I'm not sure
    I see the originality here. Google's advantage over previous-generation browsers
    was ultimately speed and a kickass search & pagerank algorithm. But ultimately
    the organization of the results doesn't seem entirely dissimilar from other
    search engines.

    And since this wasn't awarded a "utility" patent, we know we're not talking about
    anything that has functional value -- just "visual originality". Take away
    the Google logo and IMHO there's a whole lot of "visual originality" to the
    results.
    • Design fits, but unfortunately, you are referring to the unfortunate connotation that design is only about aesthetics, which is an extremely limited scope.
      • by popo (107611)
        No, not at all. Quite the opposite. I clarified the term
        design to having two potential meanings aesthetics and
        form ("organization"). Then I expressed my *opinion* that
        in terms of "form" I do not believe that Google has
        significantly differentiated themselves from their
        competitors.

        Kapisch?
    • by phorest (877315) *

      Hear Hear!

      What I want to know is what happens when they make a change to their page. Does that get covered too and all other (previous) versions not covered?
      After all, when you patent something, then change it you have to get another patent to cover the changes (keeps the lawyer-monkies busy).
      Rendering definitely has effects on overall design 'look & feel'.
      Copyright should be the issue, all others: natch....

  • It struck me as kind of interesting, the notion of looking up patents. But I was wondering if that kind of stuff would also be the area of the Wikipedia. From an entertainment point of view, the art work of the patent might be interesting. I think that the prior art thing might be easier to consider if more people could respond; Maybe from a "common public good" viewpoint, this could prove to be helpful for everyone. Just a thought, but I am wondering if there would be value in seeing what patents have
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:02AM (#17235572) Homepage
    I don't believe this.

    Years ago, there were Lotus 1-2-3 clones, which copied not only the general visual appearance but the actual menu layout, sequences, names, and functionality.

    One of the more famous was literally named "Carbon Copy." That was the product name. Really.

    Lotus took the company to court and lost. IIRC The court ruled that it was OK to copy the look, feel, and details of the Lotus product's menus, because there was no other way to produce a competitive product.

    How the heck can a perfect functional duplicate of a complete menu tree be OK, but a vague organization of elements on a web screen be copyrightable?

    This is not a case of Google being evil (although they are), this is a case of a sea change in what the United States is willing to grant IP protection to.

    But at least it was the Google News screen. I was afraid maybe they'd gotten a patent on the spare, lean, mean Google Search screen and that it would now be compulsory for everyone else to have a cluttered web page.
    • (I meant "patentable," not "copyrightable." Of course)
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How the heck can a perfect functional duplicate of a complete menu tree be OK, but a vague organization of elements on a web screen be copyrightable?

      Probably because Lotus didn't bother to get a design patent on their interface. This may have something to do with them ripping off the interface from VisiCalc in the first place.

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @01:27PM (#17239498)
      Years ago, there were Lotus 1-2-3 clones, which copied not only the general visual appearance but the actual menu layout, sequences, names, and functionality.

      One of the more famous was literally named "Carbon Copy." That was the product name. Really.

      Lotus took the company to court and lost.


      I've never heard of Carbon Copy. The only lawsuit I know of over a product with the degree of copying of 1-2-3 that you refer to is Lotus v. Paperback Software over VP-Planner, which Lotus won, on copyright grounds.

      IIRC The court ruled that it was OK to copy the look, feel, and details of the Lotus product's menus, because there was no other way to produce a competitive product.


      The court in Lotus v. Paperback actually ruled the exact opposite, on the basis of the fact that there were successful competing products that didn't do that.

      How the heck can a perfect functional duplicate of a complete menu tree be OK, but a vague organization of elements on a web screen be copyrightable?


      Patents are not copyrights and are governed by different law. The reason people seek these kinds of patents now is that efforts to use copyright to protect general look and feel and short of fairly exact copying (such as that at issue in Lotus v. Paperback) failed in the 1980s and 1990s, (e.g., in Apple vs. HP and Microsoft, and in Lotus v. Borland), which have led companies to seek different means of protecting this aspect of their product from copycats; I don't think is a case of a change in what the US is willing to grant IP protection for so much as a change in what companies are seeking a particular kind of IP protection for, as a direct result of the failure of a different kind of IP protection to protect it.

    • Lotus had a utility patent (which covers processes and methods).
      This is a design patent (which covers ornamental designs).

      World of difference.
  • by starseeker (141897) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:05AM (#17235608) Homepage
    The Google patent search beta could be big news. If anybody can get relevant patent search results out of that mass of legal speak, it's Google. I expect it wouldn't constitute a legally valid patent search but it could be Very Helpful.

    The usual favorites:

    http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPAT6368227&id= hjwMAAAAEBAJ&dq=swinging+on+a+swing [google.com]

    http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPAT5443036&id= OfwkAAAAEBAJ&dq=exercising+a+cat [google.com]
    • by JBFrobozz (20469)
      I agree that the Patent Search is big news. It could actually catch on within the legal community. There really is no such thing as a legal patent search.

      The results of patent searching have always been very dependant on the person performing the search. Patent agents/attorneys frequently use the USPTO search site, and it is terrible. Delphion probably still beats Google in terms of algorithms and raw searching power, but Google has advantages. The advantages namely include nice organization and insane
    • by mavenguy (126559)
      I agree; it looks pretty good. I especially like the ease with which the image version of the patent is presented; no wrestling with those horrid tiff images on the PTO's site (rotten ui; I have lots of problems using it with Firefox on my system; perhaps I need a better plugin).

      I used the Google search to pull up a "memorable" application I examined that had a third party Reexamination request filed within a year of issue; the image file had the Reexamination certificate displayed right at the end of the o
    • by Arguendo (931986)
      The "Method of Swinging on a Swing" patent was subsequency invalidated on reexamination by the way, a fact that is frequently not mentioned when holding it up as an example of a bad patent. See Swinging Reexamination Certificate [google.com] (see page 7 if the link doesn't work). I can't explain why the other patent is still valid.
  • by styryx (952942)
    Lockheed Martin are ripping off Willy Wonka!!

    Proof! [google.com]
  • Guess that's just marketing BS...
    • by finiteSet (834891)
      What happened to "Do No Evil"?
      Actually, they were only able to patent the "look and feel" of do no evil.
  • by LoonyMike (917095) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:52AM (#17236368)
    I bet they're also trying to pantent the concept of "releasing beta products for widespread usage".
  • This one really looks like it should be protected by copyright instead:
    http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPATD506475&id= i4UVAAAAEBAJ&pg=PP1&zoom=4&dq=google&ie=ISO-8859-1 [google.com]

    Another proof that big corporations use their cash to patent everything they can.
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:22AM (#17236896)
    Since so many people are confused as to what a design patent is :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_patent [wikipedia.org]

    And for those of you too lazy to even click: "In the United States, a design patent is a patent granted on the ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents are a type of industrial design right. Ornamental designs of jewelry, furniture, beverage containers (see Fig. 1) and computer icons are examples of what can be protected with design patents."
  • Looking at the images in the actual patent, this actually seems to specifically cover how they present travel, product, and news results on top of the regular search results.

    I'm not 100% sure, since I can't seem to get to a technical description, just the pictures. But this isn't a patent on the design of general search results pages.
  • This is great. It is much faster than the US patent office site and you can see the text of old patents. I was easily able to find and read a 1919 patent by my wife's grandfather. For fun check out this patent: Number 219628.
  • Does this mean the end for Booble?
  • It is particularly comfortable to sit on and is very suitable for walking around on. Moreover My ass(TM) is distinctive and totally unlike any other ass. As I am fond of My Ass(TM) and I don't particularly feel like paying royalties for using it, one of those fancy defensive patents may be in order.
  • Here we go again - if's Apple vs Microsoft and Lotus vs Borland all over again, as this has been done before. [mit.edu]

    Unfortunately the courts have no clear opinion on this. Lotus vs Borland made it all the way to the Supreme Court but was split 4-4 with one justice recusing himself.

    • Well, no, Apple v. Microsoft and Lotus v. Borland were copyright cases.

      Those cases are a big part of the reason that software companies now seek patents to protect look and feel (since copyright fails to protect that), but the legal issues aren't the same, as patent law is not the same as copyright law.
  • Will http://www.thotbott.com/ [thotbott.com] be getting a cease and decist or similar friendly e-mail from Google?
  • You all are complaining about patenting look and feel, but there is a very important difference between what has been done, and things like Lotus.

    Lotus had a utility patent on their look and feel.
    Google has an "ornamental design" patent on their look and feel.

    Utility patents cover methods and processes
    Design patents cover look and only look.

    In other words, to infringe a utility patent, you have to do the same thing in the same way (this is vastly simplified).

    To infringe a design patent, you have to make som
  • When searching for a patent you don't want ANYONE to know even remotely what you are thinking. By using a Google supplied tool you are subject to Google reviewing your searches. You'd be saying: "hey google here's kinda what my patent is" and they'd say "thanks we'll look at what you're thinking is a unique and private idea". Even Patent Attorneys use secure patent search services that contain a database of the downloadable USPTO data. They don't even trust the USPTO admins....so if you're going to a pr
  • This is sickening. "I thought of it first!" "Yours looks just like mine!" Greed, greed, greed! It's almost like a bunch of little, immature, selfish kids. "I called it!" "It's mine!"

    I really wonder if the world might not be better off without copyrights and patents. So what if it cut into record sales, and so what if some guy in his garage couldn't get exclusive rights to the next can opener? Maybe musicians would make a living from performing, or maybe they'd make music as a hobby, or maybe they
  • The decision to make the Web an open system was necessary for it to be universal. You can't propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.

    ---http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/FAQ from General Questions, 1998

    When Tim Berners-Lee *invented* the Web, he deliberately deigned not to pin down a look and feel for it. Each browser would render it in their own way. He merely wanted a way to deliver Internet data in such a way that it *could be* perceived in an organi

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