Google patent for minimalistic home page approved

Google's home page is very well known around the Internet, because it's simple, clean, and easy to understand. It may not seem as though much work has gone into it, but that doesn't mean it's any less effective; apparently, it's such an icon that Google has now managed to patent it, preventing others from using the layout. According to Valleywag, the patent was submitted a hefty 5 and a half years ago, back in early 2004, and it has taken this long for it to be approved.

The patent, described as a "graphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal," was approved just yesterday, meaning that Google now owns the idea of having a search box in the middle of the page, with two buttons underneath (including surrounding text, naturally). The patent document depicts the simple box-and-two-button arrangement, as well as the Google logo (with a dashed outline to show that it's not an essential part of the submission), meaning that it could potentially land some competitors in a bit of trouble. It's unclear as to whether or not Google will take action on those that could potentially be accused of unlawfully using the design, but many people suspect that it'll mainly be useful in warding away start-up companies from using Google's idea.

At the same time that the patent was submitted, Google also submitted a separate one for their search engine results. There was much more luck with this one, as it was approved towards the end of 2006. Google's homepage has changed slightly since the patent was originally submitted, but the company is apparently confident enough that it's good enough to cover it.

There's an image of the patent included below, courtesy of Valleywag, and the original patent can be found here.

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61 Comments

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The person that patents the power button is ganna make billions!
I'm personally going to patents the double click action....

it'll mainly be useful in warding away start-up companies from using Google's idea.

Oh please Google, no need to flatter yourself. A search box with a logo on top and two buttons underneath it not revolutionary. It's the least effort you could possibly go to. I wouldn't worry about competitors stealing this "idea" as its not tough to do better.

What will you patent next, the "idea" of making slight logo modifications for special occasions? Yeah, no one's ever thought of that before. EVER! Get that patent going before someone else thinks of doing it!

Have you not seen all the worthless technology patent cases in the past 10 years? Hope you aren't employed by a company that could be affected by frivolous patent cases.

Seems to me this is a smart move on Google's part. Now they don't have to worry (as much) about being sued one day for someone else patenting something so general and winning. If I had a company, I'd sure as heck try to patent anything remotely close to the technology or method or whatever someone might try to patent so I wouldn't have to deal with the lawsuits.

GoogolPlex said,
Have you not seen all the worthless technology patent cases in the past 10 years? Hope you aren't employed by a company that could be affected by frivolous patent cases.

Seems to me this is a smart move on Google's part. Now they don't have to worry (as much) about being sued one day for someone else patenting something so general and winning. If I had a company, I'd sure as heck try to patent anything remotely close to the technology or method or whatever someone might try to patent so I wouldn't have to deal with the lawsuits.

True. If Google doesn't patent this, someone else will, and they would love nothing more then some of Google's $$$$.

Yes patent reform is needed. But, that's probably why Google did this. Better they patent it before some patent trolling company decides to do it and then sue Google for infringement.

i just submitted a patent request for a large metal box that will have a power source in the front with 4 circular objects (1 each just a little of each corner of the box ) and the box will include seating material used for the comfort of human genetic material types. With the purpose of assisting life forms from getting from a starting point to a ending point.

So now will everyone on the planet with a car please start sending me my royalty checks before I send out ex-RIAA and ex-MPAA dogs out to collect from you.

Sometimes when I'm in a hurry for the sake of typing fast the first thing I always type is www.google.com and I skip the thought of the fact that the browser can do the search for me from the browser. >_>

LOL.

OK I patent a webpage with a title, a frame below the title with paragraphs of text, and then a footer with copyright info, etc.

Profit??

People keep bashing this and that, but really, is this going to change much? Is one thing having a patent, is another enforcing it. By any means, this patent is simplistic, and I would say it is extremely easy to get around the patent and hence, Google cannot sue. This is a narrow patent, that is clear. I think in order for it to be an infringement, the placement must be the same. Perhaps just a background image (like Bing) is enough to overcome any patent infringement as I fail to see what else they could patent other than the exact layout.

This is not about protecting their design so to speak, is to prevent Google wannabes and confuse consumers. Likewise, it gives them more leverage to sue phishing sites

Sam Symons said,
So, does that mean that the owners of this website can be taken to court now? :p

The question is would google really want to sue them becusae they are providing a service directing traffic back to the google network not making their own means of search?

It's funny how people can say "lets change this!", "reform that!" without actually knowing anything about what the _blank_ topic is.

Patents by themselves are a good idea, its how the U.S. is using them thats wrong.
Patents were intended to provide information to the public about new inventions so that they might spark more innovation in that area. However the protection laws around patents in the U.S have done the opposite and restricted innovation.
Patents themselves don't need to be abolished, the laws that restrict further innovation around them need to be.

Patents for homepages are getting ridiculous, but I think they can get away with this one, because how many people actually want a homepage with those specific buttons?

I would like the people at the patent office fired.

GreyWolfSC said,
Yeah, this is something that should have been trademarked, not patented.


Exactly, a trademark or copyright is the correct way to go in this case. A patent is rather foolish.

simon360 said,
Finally, someone who understands what Google did here and why it's reasonable!

Seems it's a lost cause, 99% of Neowin readers are blind and deaf. It's like talking to a wall.

Hold on... *Why* do you guys think they patented it? Just for the sake of it? Companies don't spend $$$ on patents for nothing, you know...

simon360 said,
Finally, someone who understands what Google did here and why it's reasonable!


Even if it pertains only to their 2004 frontpage tweaking, those changes were small such that frankly I doubt the patent would stand up to the newness test...

These are the most current patent guidelines: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/dapp/...01_20051026.pdf

This filing doesn't meet any of them. In fact, there doesn't appear to be any text to the patent other than

Graphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal
Claims
CLAIM The ornamental design for a graphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal, as shown and described.

A. Identify and Understand Any Utility and/or Practical Application Asserted for the Invention (Does it produce a useful, concrete or tangible result?) Nope.

B. Review the Detailed Disclosure and Specific Embodiments of the Invention To Understand What the Applicant Has Invented - Nope, there is no written description.

For processes, the claim limitations will define steps or acts to be performed. For products, the claim limitations will define discrete physical structures or materials. - Nope. No process steps, and it's not a tangible product.

And the biggie: "claims directed to nothing more than abstract ideas (such as mathematical algorithms), natural phenomena, and laws of nature are not eligible and therefore are excluded from patent protection"

And yes, if Microsoft filed a patent for the Bing home page I'd think it was dumb, too.

The Google patent is a design patent, not a utility patent (note the "D" in front of the number). Design patents cover only the unique ornamental aspects of a design, and the claim language is purely formal and defined by the PTO regulations. Merely rearranging the graphical elements on the Google page enough will avoid infringement.

John Land (Patent Attorney)

John Land said,
The Google patent is a design patent


Ah. That changes, well, everything. FWIW, outside the US such IP is generally referred to as a "registered design". "Patent" is really quite a bad word for the concept.

Patent System Overhaul plzthxbai

I wonder what the people that approve these think. Are they sitting in their offices laughing at these dumb patents and approving them for lolz?

It's a smart move. People need to think about what the idea of a homepage was before Google. You had places like Yahoo! that wanted to throw everything at you. Hell, they still do. The simplicity of the Google homepage is why it works so well.

iGoogle....
Yahoo also has a minimalistic search page.

There is nothing wrong with having a minimalistic version or not, its just more choices for users. I like my yahoo home page just like neowin's home page, if there is a story I like then I will click it.

Jiggah said,
It's a smart move. People need to think about what the idea of a homepage was before Google. You had places like Yahoo! that wanted to throw everything at you. Hell, they still do. The simplicity of the Google homepage is why it works so well.


Never seen the original yahoo home page did you? before the "portal" world came into existance yahoo was like google also

Kyle said,
I just lost some respect for Google...even though I use it for just about everything.

Seriously ALL companies these days patent everything. Someone just patented Instant Messaging (can't recall which companies did it) it's not any better.

Kyle said,
I just lost some respect for Google...even though I use it for just about everything.



Only now?

Patent is territorial. Hence is for US only.

But normally, companies submit patents world wide (especially with Google's size) so you could assume is world wide.

305 said,
quick someone patend one with only ONE button in the middle under the search !


Bing has no visible buttons under the search box.

305 said,
yea but come on, its ONE button! think of the possibilities! ...lol


apple tried one button
that didnt get their PC market share up

That's just beyond silly. Do they have their own special method of displaying a plain page? According to "view source", no.

Terrible. Soon Apple and Google will both patent breathing, and walking, and........

It's over the top. That's all that can be said. I never used Google, and now I will drastically avoid them! Time to find a good ad blocker...(AdSense is Google)

andrewbares said,
Time to find a good ad blocker...(AdSense is Google)


Kewl, I got my ad-blocker in IE 8 set up! Now I don't have to see any Google Ads either!

andrewbares said,
Kewl, I got my ad-blocker in IE 8 set up! Now I don't have to see any Google Ads either! :)


What do you use?? I trying to find some ad-blocker.

A lot of these junk patents are marketing induced. Friend of mine at IBM *has* to have x number of patents filed per year or he won't get a salary increase during his annual review. That way their sales briefings can have statements like, "IBM has filed more patents this year than all our competition combined! We're leaders in innovation." Lots of other larger companies have simliar HR rules.