Google has updated Google Patents, a search engine that can be used to find the most relevant references for judging whether a patent is valid. Google says the tool can be helpful to both expert and “the public.” However, a word of caution: Patents and trademarks can be a nuanced and arcane topic so consult an expert before making any business decisions related to patents.

Traditionally, patent searches focus on other patents. But the best “prior art” (information made available to the public before the date someone may have filed a patent claim) might not be found in a patent, but in a harder-to-find book, article, or manual. Google says it has helped solve this challenge by incorporating search beyond “patent search” in seeking patent-related information.

“The ability to search for the most relevant references–the best prior art–is more important today than ever. Patent filings have steadily increased with 600,000 applications filed and 300,000 patents issued in 2014 alone. At the same time, litigation rates are continuing their dramatic climb, with patent trolls bringing the majority of cases, hitting companies of every size in industries from high-tech to main street.”

Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents
Ian Wetherbee, software engineer for Google Patents


According to Google, the new Google Patents helps users find non-patent prior art by cataloguing it, using the same scheme that applies to patents. “We’ve trained a machine classification model to classify everything found in Google Scholar using Cooperative Patent Classification codes. Now users can search for “autonomous vehicles” or “email encryption” and find prior art across patents, technical journals, scientific books, and more.”

Key features of the new Google Patents

  • Search and read the full text of patent grants and applications from around the world.
  • If you’re looking for prior art, you can use the integrated Prior Art Finder tool and Google Scholar documents to find patent and non-patent prior art, all in one interface.
  • Patents without English full text are machine-translated to English, so you can search foreign patent documents using English keywords.
  • Searches documents from Google Scholar (minus legal opinions and citation-only results).
  • Documents from Google Scholar have been classified with Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) codes using a machine-classification model, to make it easier to search non-patent literature in a patent searching context.
  • You can still access the old Google Patents and the Prior Art Finder.

What patents are available?

  • EPO
  • WIPO
  • DPMA
  • CIPO
  • SIPO

Find out more

Photo: ThinkStock


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