November 27, 2003

MSN: a Copybot

Last week MSN launched Newsbot a news aggregation service in competition with Google News. I'm astonished that Microsoft had the audacity to use exactly the same design as Google. Admittedly, the look and feel is different but the page structure is an exact imitation. I previously mentioned a quote by Google's Marissa Mayer that it took them a good 64 iterations to finalise the Google News interface. Now Microsoft is reaping the benefits by making a simple copy and paste. It seems that the only thing that has changed is the stylesheet.

A few months ago Google served a "Cease and Desist" notice on Amazon Light - an associate that utilises Amazon's API technology for its own user interface - asking it to drop its imitation of Google's search interface. As a result, the site had to alter the design to comply with the demand.

Will Google protest against Microsoft? It's doubtful. Pushing Microsoft isn't easy. But should Google at least take it up with them? Absolutely. Microsoft's Newsbot clearly represents a blatant disregard to its intellectual property. It's a propreitary design developed at Google so they will be within their rights to lodge a protest. However, since the legal route for contesting an interface design copyright is a bit slippery, it's unlikely that it'll happen.

Related Links
Amazon Light describes the Google episode
Google's actual e-mail to Amazon Light
Current design of Amazon Light

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