There have been a lot of complaints about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the way they approve patents and the patents they allow through the system. However, a patent granted to Google on September 1, 2009 may be the most asinine patent yet.
While Google has become synonymous search, the website's design is very minimalistic and looks like something that might have been put together by a student during the first week of an HTML 101 class. If you thought it was that simple, you'd be wrong by the USPTO's standards which apparently think the web page is a innovative "graphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal."
This could mean trouble for Ask.com, Yahoo, Altavista, and anyone else that has a screen with a few links, a search box, and a couple of buttons. Bing may be ok, since they've taken a fancier approach to the search screen with links on the left and a image on the background.
It took more than five years for this patent to slide through the system; it was originally filed on July 14, 2004. Google also owns a patent for the display of search results which it was granted in 2006, that patent was submitted at the same time as the home page patent.