Having designed a collaboration tool that encompasses all the functionality provided by Campfire and Huddle Chat but includes a patent pending set of technologies critical to the scalability of the implementation I wonder why 37signals felt entitled to complain. It is clear from looking at the interfaces that they are layed out similarly but I wouldnt call one a clone of the other, Google could have used a different layout (say like parachat, meebo or userplanes for example) but the main fact that they are all using the same simple implementation method to make the chat work is common regardless of the interface. The machine behind is what needs to be unique and protected. If it is novel and efficient, it will allow a company to compete with established players and gain traction without fear of strong competition for a period of time that will allow them to hopefully thrive. This is what I hope to do with my product which will soon be coming out of stealth. I look forward to seeing if Google can "throw together" a scalable competitor to my service when I do...just so long as it takes them about a year or two to get it out there;).
Bring on the competition I say!