Google was awarded United States Patent No. D599,372 for its graphical user interface (GUI).
This is a design patent and therefore only protects the ornamental features of the Google search page (i.e. the patent does not protect the function of the interface or how Google does its searching).
Design patents last for 14 years from their issue date, so this patent will expire on September 1, 2023. Interesting, it appears that Google’s current website design would not infringe this patent because of the differences in appearances and layout.
Norm, a reader, commented, "Ah design patents…the Jan Brady of intellectual property."
Photo by USPTO.