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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Google Patent Search Released

Google released a new search tool called Google Patent Search. With this service, you’re enabled to search through (at the moment) 7 million patents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office also has a search service, but it’s not a really good (with flaky overlong result URLs that don’t make good permalinks*, and a search which just doesn’t find much).

Google’s new search engine on the other works just as you’d expect, quick and simple. For example, I’ve entered amazon one-click in the search box. I’m then presented with a Google-style list result (it’s missing the words “patent search” below the logo, but I guess this will be fixed) showing the title of the patent, the patent number, the date it was filed, and the patent owner. Clicking on this result will take you to an overview page that summarizes the patent and its claims, and allows you to search just within this patent. You’ll also be able to directly view the attached patent drawings, displayed as thumbnails (this is good, because that part was clunky, and partly broken, at too), and check the citations the patent makes, and other patents which reference it.

A “read this patent” button on the other hand will take you directly to a Google Book Search-like full view of the print-version, but displayed as easily accessible web page. There’s no copyright problems here for Google either because patents may be freely reprinted*, though you’ll also be able to go to directly.

If you want more search features, the site’s advanced search page lets you find results just by inventor, assignee, title, filing date and so on. Note that you won’t be able to find patents issued over the last few months, or non-US patents, as the Google Patent Search FAQ explains.


The lipstick, patented in 1941.

The system isn’t revolutionary and probably not perfect (for example, sometimes the titles are all upper-case, which makes them harder to read, something which Google might be able to fix – also, I don’t know how successful Google is in ranking more important patents on top), but overall nice. This seems to be one of those obvious in hindsight products, and if you consider that USPTO’s search is powered by Vivisimo as well as MSN, it’s some friendly Microsoft-butt-kicking, too.

*The USPTO even admits as much, saying “the USPTO site is not archival; links may change and material may be removed without warning”, “the USPTO strongly encourages archival or permanent links to the USPTO home page only: (”, and “deep links may bypass critical instructions and notices to customers, causing a support burden for the USPTO as well as inquiries to your own site’s support staff.” Yeah, right, and welcome to the internet.

**USPTO explains, “Copyright law (17 U.S.C. ยง 105) states that all materials created by the United States government are in the public domain.”

[Via Inside Google Book Search and Pacificdave in the forum.]


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