U.S. Patent Office finds Google Doodle dandy

Patent award the culmination of a decade-long effort

Edison Doodle

Now I enjoy a good Google Doodle as much as anyone, but a patent? For Google Doodles? Really, Google? Really, patent office people?

But there you have it, U.S. Patent No. 7,912,915, assigned just today to Google co-founder and Google Doodle "inventor" Sergey Brin.

(2011's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

The patent abstract reads:

Systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site

A system provides a periodically changing story line and/or a special event company logo to entice users to access a web page. For the story line, the system may receive objects that tell a story according to the story line and successively provide the objects on the web page for predetermined or random amounts of time. For the special event company logo, the system may modify a standard company logo for a special event to create a special event logo, associate one or more search terms with the special event logo, and upload the special event logo to the web page. The system may then receive a user selection of the special event logo and provide search results relating to the special event.

The patent application was first filed in May 2000, so this has been no half-hearted effort on the part of Google and its patent lawyers.

Parks doodle

While news of the patent award is still fresh, reaction has been swift and unkind to Google.

Slashdotters are generally derisive, with one calling the patent: "A method to leave people speechless."

In a post otherwise devoted to the spate of Android-related patent lawsuits, Florian Mueller writes on his Foss Patents blog:

Just today, Google was granted a typical "troll" patent ... on "systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site". That's basically a patent on the idea behind the famous "Google Doodle". If you read the patent document, you can see that there's absolutely no serious innovation behind it. The patent office was apparently hesitant to grant it, but reluctantly did so after Google kept pushing for about a decade. A company that seeks to monopolize such basic ideas -- behind which there really isn't any serious technology -- apparently loves patents. Even trivial patents (because the Google Doodle patent certainly does nothing to raise the quality of US patent grants). But Google's affection goes only to its own patents.

The history of the Google Doodle can be read here. There is no doubt that it has become something of an Internet icon and attracts gobs and gobs of press attention virtually every time it appears.

Some people are going to think it's not quite so much fun anymore.

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