Google Patent Search Beta The Good and the not so good

Official Google Blog: Now you can search for U.S. patents

Hey wow, this is pretty cool. I’ve done some playing around with it to see how well it works, and its got some real potential.

The good:
Ease of use for the masses. The USPTO website really lacks when it comes to its interface. Its a powerful tool, but its easy to miss things either by data overload, or wrong search terms unless you have used it a while. The amazingly cool part of this, is that hopefully a lot more patents will be contested as non-obvious.

Fast access to an overview. This is cool, the claims show up on page one, as does the abstract. You can also access different parts of the patent quickly.

Its also cool to check prior art, as the claims and references sections show up on the first page.

You can also search for inventors and assignees quickly, just by entering a name. No more scrolling to select search terms like the USPTO website.

You can also search by patent attorney, but care is needed when it comes to the name. One of my attorney friends has 618 patents listed, but with my first pass, only 1 showed up, due to an issue with his middle initial. The same occurred with another attorney friend. (both have the same middle initial, go figure.

The not so good:
Printing is problematic, unless you want to just look at the front page view, you can’t really print it out.

The patent images are blurry, although they are indexable by search which is super cool.

Its a pain to go back to the top level view (well not really, you just hit the back bottom, but a nav key on the form would be helpful

Search has some idiosyncracies. I went to look for a patent on a rotary dispenser by the inventors name, and couldn’t find it. Until I got the exact spelling, it didn’t show. For some reason, neither did the city search locate it. Only upon referencing the USPTO website for some exact numbers was I able to find it. (he was the first real inventor I knew of, and actually sold a number of these complex units.

There is no control over patent search display order. I can understand why google is going what they are doing, but a chronological display of issuance as an option is almost a must, once you have initially honed in on your terms.

One can’t highly text and copy if from the background section, but you can cut and past from the abstract and claims. Hopefully google will add this functionality. Background is useful, as it can lead to further mousetrap improvements in the area.

Nice stuff to have
There is not a way to determine if a patent has expired for fee non-payment, or without hoop jumping what the patent term is. That would be a nice feature…. Its a little ungainly at the USPTO though, so its not a big deal.

Summary
Google patent search is way cool.

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