Splitting a check after a big group meal can be a pain-in-the-neck problem. But is it a Google-level conundrum?


A handful of Google engineers appear to think so. According to a patent application made public Thursday, six New York-area Google employees want a patent on a method for "tracking and managing group expenditures."

The patent application at times "reads like the plot for a Seinfeld episode," opined Todd Bishop at GeekWire. The filing contains several hypothetical examples of the use of their method. "assume that Users A-C have drinks at a bar and User B pays a bill of $45 for the drinks User B adds the payment transaction as an expenditure of the group and allocates $15 of the transaction to User A, $20 to User B, $10 to User C. In this example, the balance module 308 would update the individual balances of Users A-C to indicate that User B now owes $115 to User A ($130-$15) and User C owes $10 to User B ($0+$10)."

No word on whether the patent will become the culinary equivalent of Google Glass -- stare at your food hand enough and it will tell you how much you owe if you're too drunk to do math.

But the patent application itself may be a serious-enough event for companies in the emerging mobile payment space like Square or PayPal to sit up and take notice.