Has Anyone Patented A Round Thing On An Axle Yet? Google It.

As we mentioned yesterday, Google is useful for all sorts of things you might not know about. Slate's Michael Agger has a fascinating rundown on one of the strangest and most controversial applications Google's got: searching through patents:

Now that the buzz is wearing off, it's time to ask what Google Patents is actually good for. The wizards of Mountain View have stated that their corporate ethos is to organize all of human knowledge. But why is it that Google's search technology often seems like a killer app for ending pointless conversations? With the debut of Google Patents, a question from a cubicle mate along the line of, "Do you think my American Idol board game idea will make me rich?" can be answered with the near-universal reply, "I don't know. Google it."
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