For some time now, I have noticed how Google has obtained several design patents for its website and user interface. See below.
They also recently applied for and obtained a new design patent for the layout of search results. Click here to see it.
A design patent is not your typical patent, and it only secures the aesthetic ornamental aspects of the goods.
Nothing is stopping Google from trademarking its clean, minimalist web interface. In fact, I wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal a while back on how Apple used this very strategy to obtain a shape trademark for its iPod and iPhone.
My most recent search of Google’s nearly 100 live trademarks, however, shows they have yet to learn from Apple’s trademark strategy success.
UPDATE: Please see this newer post to learn about additional ways to secure a website’s design and functionality.