I was reading about the cool Mark Twain Google doodle here and was surprised to find that Google had actually managed to obtain a patent related to the idea of using homepage doodles. The inventor is Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin; the patent application was filed back in April 2001 but not granted as a patent until March 2011. The patent’s title is “Systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site” (PTO version; Google versionwith PDF). The abstract and claim 1 are below:
Abstract: 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.
Claim 1. 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.
This got me curious as to what other patents Brin might have obtained. Here they are (sigh):
Another search reveals 925 patents owned by Google (the thousands of patents acquired from Motorola Mobility are evidently not yet assigned to Google in the PTO database so don’t show up here), plus a bunch of pending patent applications.
You can’t really blame Google for playing the patent game and trying to build up a defensive patent portfolio.1 Still, asserting this patent against innocent companies would surely violate the company motto “Don’t be evil“.