Google's latest patent

What did Google get for a New Year’s present? Their patent issued! On December 31, 2013 patent number 8,261,366 titled “Self-creation of comic strips in social networks and other communications” was issued, assigned to Google. This patent, like other software patents, is a method patent. It teaches a method rather than how to make an actual product that you can hold in your hand. 

Why do we care? Because this patent is for something fun for consumers. The only catch; you have to use Google+ to be able to get it, although there are similar comic-generating apps out there. Basically, it allows you to create your own comic strip electronically and share it. You can see two of the inventor’s figures from the patent below. Figure 5 shows how you put in the text of your comic, and figure 7 shows how it can be shared through social media. It will be interesting to see how quickly this catches on and how creative Google+ users are with their humor! It also shows the value of patents. By the time this becomes just another routine Google+ feature, Google will be making big bucks off it, just like everything else they do, and no one will be able to copy them because they hold the patent.

The patent was originally filed on February 16, 2010 and issued nearly 4 years later. Even the mighty Google has to wait years to get their patent, just like everyone else. So the next time you get frustrated because the US patent office is taking so long to issue your patent, just remember, you’re not alone. But also remember, only a small fraction of people in the world own patents, so hang in there and watch your perserverance pay off!

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Rhys Dennison - January 12, 2014 9:47 PM

Great to know - thanks. I thought I'd already seen comic strips such as these on Facebook. Maybe that will have to stop now?

Elizabeth Gearhart - January 13, 2014 10:44 AM

Good comment Rhys. Google may choose to pursue their rights against individuals like the music industry did years ago, but their success depends on how closely the Facebook strips' creation process is to the process outlined in Google's patent. They may issue cease and desist letters, or, if people are using a Facebook program, they may ask Facebook to license their patented technology. If you're using comic creation software on Facebook, I would try to find out if what you're using is covered by Google's patent. If it is covered, I'd stop using it.

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