Lawyers! Lawyers! Step right up! The Google Doodle has been patented. After a decade of lobbying, Google has won a patent for its popular homepage doodles, which have been rolled out with increasingly regularity in recent months. (Today's Google doodle honors the famous illusionist Harry Houdini. Past logos have paid tribute to authors such as Jules Verne, video games such as Pac-Man, and movies such as "Wizard of Oz.")
Sergey Brin, the cofounder of Google, gets credit as the inventor of the patent, which has been officially dubbed the "System and Method For Enticing Users To A Web Site." (Too wordy! For our money, we prefer the more simple "doodle.") The US patent office has the full text of the Google Doodle application, but be forewarned – this thing is dense, and full of language like this:
"FIG. 9 is a diagram of examples 910-950 of special event logos according to implementations consistent with the present invention. In the example 910, a company logo is modified with a leprechaun's pot of gold for Saint Patrick's Day."
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"For having been filed ten years ago, this is brilliant – the idea that a logo can be exciting," Richard Siegel, CEO of Internet technology provider Archbridge, told ABC News today. "It doesn't have to be a standard rubber stamp, but can instead be used as a way to enhance people's enjoyment of what they're viewing. This shows me Google was on the ball even back in 2001."
"The actual methods described in the patent don't seem to be anything special – it's not like Google has some amazing unique way of changing its logo daily," Rosoff writes. "The patent system was originally created to foster innovation by protecting small inventors from having their ideas ripped off by big companies. But increasingly, big companies are using patents for exactly the opposite reason – to stop competitors from innovating."
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