back to article Do you feel 'lucky', well, do you, punk? Google faces down magic button patent claim

Google has won a patent dispute over its famous "I'm feeling lucky" button that immediately connects a user to its top-raking search link with a single click. The search engine giant was sued in 2016 by Israeli company Spring Ventures (previously Buy2 Networks) for allegedly infringing on its patent, US 8,661,094, that covers …

  1. Sleep deprived
    Go

    "Obvious"

    This is a word I'd like to hear more often in judges' mouth over ridiculous patent claims, round corners and others.

    1. The First Dave Silver badge

      Re: "Obvious"

      Round Corners was never a patent issue - it was all about 'trade dress' i.e. design/copyright.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Obvious"

        In the US at least, it was a design patent issue.

        1. The First Dave Silver badge

          Re: "Obvious"

          And a "Design Patent" is not a Patent as we know it, rather it is more closely aligned with "Trade Marks".

  2. Sam Jelfs

    The classic line is "obvious to one skilled in the art" - Basically, can someone who knows about this field have made this same invention with little effort, not just obvious to the man on the street.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      The problem seems to be that 90% of the people involved in developing web pages are "definitely not skilled in the art".

      I must confess I have my name on a patent but my job was at stake for not agreeing to write about something I'd knocked up the functional core of in a lunch meeting! I doubt it would stand up to any scrutiny but my managers thought its was the dogs bollocks whereas to me it was obvious to anyone reading their first art pamphlet as Viz would describe it. I was probably skilled in that art but 25 years on I'm still learning about computing.

  3. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Was that a good idea?

    > specifically Joe Belfiore's patent for "Intelligent automatic searching" which he developed while working for Microsoft

    So, can MS now sue them next? (Of course it is possible, even likely they have a cross-licencing deal that covers this).

    1. DaLo

      Re: Was that a good idea?

      1997 + 20 = 2017

      2017 < 2019

      This function describe the method to work out whether a patent has passed it's 20 year validity period taking inputs of the patent filing data, the patent validity date in the US and the current year.

      This process is now ©2019 me

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Was that a good idea?

        FTA: "The patent was originally filed in 1999, and the company won a continuation of it in 2014"

        1. DaLo

          Re: Was that a good idea?

          FTA: "And so it dug back into the annals of internet browsing history and specifically Joe Belfiore's patent for "Intelligent automatic searching" which he developed while working for Microsoft back in the Internet Explorer days (Belfiore is still at Microsoft btw). He filed it back in 1997."

      2. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Was that a good idea?

        2017 < 2019

        Maybe, maybe not. Around that time, the rules for computing the term of patents in the U.S were changing from the time of granting to the time of filing, and the patent term changed from 17 to 20 years, and existing patents could pick whatever would produce the longest term. And there can be continuations of the filing. So figuring out when a patent expires is not so simple. A system designed to keep lawyers occupied...

        1. DaLo

          Re: Was that a good idea?

          That was 1995 any such patents are no longer relevant unless there is some tiny outliers that took 4 years to grant.

          The patent in question has expired.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Headmaster

    connects a user to its top-raking search link

    Given the amount of less-than-useful material on the net these days, that typo seems apposite.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: connects a user to its top-raking search link

      "that typo seems apposite"

      Sceptic that I am I assumed "I feel lucky" to mean either a random link or the best paid advert which would have fitted "top-raking" exactly so never bother with it. I just decided to try it.

      Anybody researching the Wordsworth family history knows the family originated in Penistone and also knows that a trawl for anything they might have overlooked by searching for those two names in combination reels in a mass of estate agent's ads. Developers are never shy on incorporating locally-linked famous names into their street names.

      I wondered which would be Google's top-ranking, or -raking estate agent's add. And what happened? I got taken to the Nation Archives' page for the Wordsworth family papers in the Sheffield Archives.

  5. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I havent seen that button in years as googles chromes default "new tab" page seems to be a facsimile of googles search page , but with a couple of subtle fifferences. I hadnt noticed it wasnt googles actual page till recently - i did think it was odd that anything you type in the search box gets magically typed in the URL bar instead

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Yiddish?

    What!

    Who is this ignorant racist writer? FFS!

    I don't expect outright racism on El Reg.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Yiddish?

      WTF is racist about naming a commonly used language? Named that by its speakers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yiddish?

        Certainly not racist, definitely ignorant. Israeli Jews primarily speak Hebrew.

    2. John 73

      Re: Yiddish?

      Absolutely - this was a very jarring usage with no place in an august organ like the Reg (the pejorative overtones of its use in this way should be obvious). The official language of Israel is Hebrew. I'm sure this was just carelessness, but it's not a great look.

      (I'm neither Jewish nor Israeli, BTW, just someone who cares about how words are used.)

      1. Steve 114
        Headmaster

        Re: Yiddish?

        Isn't Yiddish a Germanic dialect (derived fron the German word 'Judisch') with Hebrew and Polish borrrowings, but entirely distinct from pure Hebrew?

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Yiddish?

          I'm no expert, but I'd have to agree with you there, and add the further thought that Yiddish is generally written in roman script (i.e. ascii) while Hebrew is not.

          So perhaps Hebrew should have been the word?

          1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

            Re: Yiddish?

            "...add the further thought that Yiddish is generally written in roman script (i.e. ascii) while Hebrew is not."

            Another thought coming: same alphabet, actually, at least according to the most authoritative or sources.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Yiddish?

              It is. Just that to a Hebrew speaker the words are hard to read because they make no sense. Yiddish speakers, the few that remain, usually have a working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew too. And many will know modern Hebrew too.

        2. MacroRodent Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Yiddish?

          Yes, it is a separate Germanic language. Its most famous user was probably the writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978. He wrote the original works in Yiddish and translated them to English himself.

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Yiddish?

          Yes. Associated with a tiny subset of Middle-European fundamentalist Jews of the kind who wear long black coats in places like Stamford Hill ( and a noble literary tradition that died with the Shoah). Not Israel. Racist because of this stereotype which was never relevant to either Israel or the wider Jewish population.

          It's no different to assuming that all of New York's Irish-Americans speak Gaelic and carry a pig under their arm.

          1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

            Re: Yiddish?

            > Associated with a tiny subset of Middle-European fundamentalist Jews of the kind who wear long black coats in places like Stamford Hill

            Actually, no. And I used to live near there. All the orthodox I met spoke hebrew.

            Yiddish is associated with essentially ALL Ashkenazi jews, of whom a huge proportion emigrated to the states in the 19C and there later achieved an over-represented awareness in the wider culture due to their high concentrations in geographical areas which were over-represented in mass-media, starting with theatre, then movies, then tv. As such, many if not most americanised people associate jewry with yiddish, although this is fading as mass-media has moved away from its previously (eg, 20s-50s) intensely geographically centralised sources.

            Oi vey.

            Get it right, already.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Yiddish?

        Further down, Wikipedia says Arabic was also "official" until 2018, and presently has "a special status". Which sounds a wee bit like when the Dilbert organisation assigns an employee to "a special project", which I'm sure is the intention.

        The article is not adequately edited, to which I attribute calling the plaintiff company "the Israeli" - I presume corporations are considered people and citizens only in the U.S., and so this is, at best, a form of grammar that I'm unfamiliar with - but it's only a word short e.g. "the Israeli company" so maybe the writer forgot they hadn't typed the word "company". That happens often to my train thought.

        1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

          Re: Yiddish?

          > I presume corporations are considered people and citizens only in the U.S.

          No, that's an English thing. Entities have legal status as --well-- entities, and humans and companies can constitute entities. (Not always: eg, insane people.) Trusts, on the other hand and IIRC, can not -- they are notional and not real: plans and contracts and commitments rather than "people"; only the trustee is an entity.

          From England, that concept spread with both the legal expansion of the kingdoms right through Britain and unto the UK, plus also various diaspora of refugees who nicked all the basic ideas but had quite reasonably got tired of being told they were nutcases for wearing silly hats and hairshirts and refusing to have fun. Hence: USA.

          There was also a rabble of convicts who got given the flick, and who also nicked all the ideas on the way out but were too bloody lazy to be bothered changing anything useful without a good reason. I'm from there (Australia).

          Or to put it another way:

          that concept started in England and is now pretty standard across the Western world.

          1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

            Re: Yiddish?

            Having said that, "the Israeli" vs "the Israeli company" is very peculiar english, quite contrary to any normal usage. At best akin to declaring that Kennedy's "I am a jam doughnut" constituted a good, clean, normal german declaration that he lived in Berlin.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yiddish?

      Racist? The last I heard Yiddish is a language spoken (mainly) by Orthodox Jews, not a term of racial abuse. Granted a lot more people speak Hebrew, but even so...

      1. David Nash Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Yiddish?

        Even if it's incorrect usage it's far from being racist.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Yiddish?

        No. It's not racist to say Yiddish speakers speak Yiddish. I'm planning to learn it myself. But thinking that Israelis speak a middle-European dialect of German- that's different. As I've posted above, like assuming that all Irish Americans speak Gaelic and carry a pig under their arms.

    4. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Yiddish?

      Sorry. Silly error on my part. Should have written Hebrew.

      Point was to explain why this company had come up with such a system.

      Kieren

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Yiddish?

        Yes, but, note my comment about Gaelic. It's the stereotyping that's the worry.For example, your name is Irish in origin. (After I'd posted the above I saw this and decided to check its origin). You'd probably be pretty pissed off if anyone who saw your name assumed that your main spoken language was Gaelic ( maybe it is, I'm a great fan of minority languages and want to learn Yiddish).

        1. kierenmccarthy

          Re: Yiddish?

          Excellent, flawless point.

        2. wayward4now
          Happy

          Re: Yiddish?

          I sure messed up, I carried a goat under my arms!

          1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge
            Happy

            Re: Yiddish?

            Ye eejit. Go-ats go oan yer heed.

  7. big_D Silver badge

    I'm so glad...

    that the government here decided that software patents were spurious and software was already covered by copyright and threw out the idea.

  8. Pat Att

    patent lawyers have habit of turning written English into a gaspingly turgid explanation of a concept

    As a patent attorney I can confirm this.

  9. Paul Herber Silver badge

    never used it

    I've never clicked on the I'm feeling lucky button, I shall never do, I have no idea where it might take me, that in itself is good enough reason.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: never used it

      I second this. Especially after my friend did it with disastrous results.

      Imagine the setting. My friend and colleague, being in Japan and before Google had implemented filtering, my friend coming from a scientific background, about the demonstrate the superior qualities of LaTeX. I am sure he must come from a sheltered background and I am equally sure you all can guess how that went. Do you feel lucky, punk? He certainly did. Whatever they were processing on that web page, it sure was not text.

    2. LoPath
      Go

      Re: never used it

      http://bfy.tw/LqLl

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legal Certainty

    >You can read the full decision to find out precisely what it means but we don't recommend it: patent lawyers have habit of turning written English into a gaspingly turgid explanation of a concept.

    Why should the language stop you, when this is the core of the issue? What the Reg has a problem with, is a side effect of the need for legal certainty, and it has to be written in a careful language defining exactly what this is. There are many requirements for a patent to be granted and one of the more difficult hurdles to pass is the obviousness test (or inventive step, as it is called in the European Patent Office). Everyday, ambiguous "plain language" will be full of loop holes. Think of the requirements as written in an imperative language of law, and it would at least invite to proper parsing.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Legal Certainty

      "Why should the language stop you, when this is the core of the issue?"

      It doesn't stop me, but legal language is only clear to lawyers, and I am not a lawyer. So reading that stuff isn't always as useful as I hope, as I can't understand much of it (and it's not always clear if I understood the rest correctly).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Legal Certainty

        >It doesn't stop me, but legal language is only clear to lawyers, and I am not a lawyer.

        I believe it is easier for a programmer to learn the meaning of legal certainty than it is for lawyers to learn about object oriented programming.

        >So reading that stuff isn't always as useful as I hope, as I can't understand much of it (and it's not always clear if I understood the rest correctly).

        Well, wilfully not understanding it sure makes for a lot of generic outrage in the discussions. It is good for advertising, at least.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Legal Certainty

      I would suggest that the legal certainty is really the legal vagueness to spread the definition as wide as possible,

    3. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: Legal Certainty

      Quite so. Legal language is an attempt to write code without a compiler. cf IFTTT.

      Well, at best. There ARE a lot of parasitic idiots wallowing around behind the shield of obfuscation, copypasting boilerplate and if you point out a problem and ask for a change, panicking *cough* insisting it is correct and can't be changed safely.

  11. JohnFen Silver badge

    Or, as I like to call it...

    The useless button.

    With the ongoing decline in the quality of search results that Google provides, the first hit is never, ever actually relevant to what I'm searching for. I'm lucky if I get a relevant result in the first page!

    1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: Or, as I like to call it...

      Nah, it's just yet another instance of the Demo-Only Feature.

      These are now more important to the creating-companies than the actual user interface/UX.

      The DOF is something which is:

      * ONLY useful for the duration of a presentation of its newness to non-technical people (eg salesmen, journos)

      * typically a negative for prolonged use/users.

      .

      Example: the macosx Dock.

      Example: the win10 Dynamic Game Panel! on the startmenu.

      Example: transparency on the desktop.

      Example: the "flattened" affordance-deleted Modern Interface! meme of maciwindroidux.

      etc.

  12. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Am I lucky?

    I dont think I've ever been offered the 'Feeling lucky' button,

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Am I lucky?

      Do you not go to google.com to do a google search?

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