Remember Cuil? Google Does

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Back in 2008, a search engine called Cuil launched. Its founders included several folks with impressive backgrounds in the search business. It claimed to be the world’s largest search engine, and said that it had figured out an approach that was superior to Google’s PageRank. Before it launched, it looked like it could be a formidable Google rival.

But it turned out that…it was terrible. Just awful. The combination of immense hype and laughable reality pretty much destroyed the service while it was still on the launchpad.

In 2010, the company released a Wikipedia like service called Cpedia that was even more useless than its search engine. Then it went offline.

Fast forward to today. SEO by the Sea’s Bill Slawski is reporting that some of Cuil’s patents have a new owner–and that company is Google. Anna Lynn Patterson, an ex-Googler who co-founded Cuil, returned to Google at some point, Slawski says.

The Cuil patents that Google snapped up related to its interface, which was one of many things about the service which weren’t so hot. I doubt that Google wants to remake itself in Cuil’s image; it may just be beefing up its patent portfolio to protect itself against random lawsuits. Still, if Google does end up making use of Cuil’s ideas, it would be a last-minute happy ending to a story that seemed to be a tragic farce that concluded long ago.

(MORE: Why Cuil Is No Threat to Google)