When Cuil launched in July of 2008, they claimed to be the world’s largest search engine and to have figured out a more advanced method of generating web results than Google’s PageRank. The search startup, which was founded by industry veterans from Google and IBM, claimed that they could crawl the web at 10% of Google’s cost and that they had an index with three times more web pages than Google. Although Cuil raised a total of $33 million of venture capital and made big promises, the search startup was forced to shutdown in September of 2010. The former co-founder of Cuil, Anna Lynn Patterson, returned to Google as the new “Director of Google Research.”
Now, Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea is reporting that Google has acquired seven of the patents that their former competitor held. The transfer of the patents, which focus on usability and how search results are displayed, were recorded in the USPTO database on February 14th. Below is an image from one of the patents that demonstrates the search interface:
Since Cuil boasted that they were able to index over 120 billion web pages at 10% of Google’s cost, one would expect that Google would have focused primarily on acquiring the patents that were related to web indexation. However, all seven of Google’s recently acquired patents focus solely on the user interface. It will be interesting to see if Google implements any UI changes as a result of acquiring these patents.