Google software engineer Chikai Ohazama played up his work, Google X, on the company's blog on Tuesday. Located on Google's test site, Google X featured an alternate way to connect to various services, allowing people to click on a series of graphical icons in a method inspired by a feature in Apple's operating system.
As of Wednesday afternoon, however, the Web page was inaccessible.
The site functioned much like the Dock feature that exists in Apple's OS X. There was a row of icons for various Google services, and as a user hovered over a particular icon, it was magnified. The similar Dock feature on the Mac exists at the bottom of the screen, allowing a user to quickly get to frequently used programs, documents and Web sites.
Google specifically called out the similarity with a message on the Google X page. "Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you," the message said.
Apple has sought patent protection for the "Genie Effect" used in the Dock.
Google and Apple representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Google and Apple run very different businesses, but the two companies vie for a coolness quotient that's largely unspoken in technology circles. Still, brand researchers try to quantify it. The two competed for top billing as the leading U.S. consumer brand, with Google winning No. 1 in 2003, but falling behind Apple in 2004, according to Interbrand. More impossible to measure is the cache of magazines, TV shows and films that tout the companies' products as hipster toys and tools for the "in" crowd.
Both Google and Apple have gone after Web sites or product makers that mimic their own. Google, for example, has sent cease and desist letters to the likes of Booble.com, claiming its pornography search site. Apple this week against a company that registered the itunes.co.uk domain, and in the past has asked sites to that it felt too closely mirrored the Mac OS X interface.
Separately, Apple and Google have a licensing deal for search. Google provides a resident search box in Apple's Safari Web browser.