Google Patents Searching Through Multiple Categories At Once

from the this-is-non-obvious? dept

Every week, when new patents are issued, I usually scan through various patents issued to certain companies. Each week, Microsoft usually has somewhere between 40 to 60 new patents. On the other hand, Google has some weeks where they get no patents at all. At most, I think I've seen weeks where Google received three or four new patents. And, of course, to Google's credit, the company has not been aggressive in using its patent portfolio offensively. As far as I know, Google has never sued another company over patents, though there could be cases I do not know about. Yet, that doesn't mean that sometimes a patent issued to the company raises questions. Last week, Google's one patent is for an "interface for a universal search engine." Basically, the company seems to have patented the ability to search through multiple databases at once (say, a web database, a news database and an images database) and present all the results together on a single page.

What's unclear to me is how anyone "skilled in the art" could consider this a non-obvious solution. This is (and was) the sort of evolutionary improvement that pretty much anyone in the space would have known was coming to search engines. It hardly seems deserving of a patent. My guess is that Google gets these sorts of patents more for defensive purposes, and probably (hopefully?) isn't likely to sue other companies that do something similar. However, just the fact that Google had to spend time, money and effort in securing such a patent seems like a waste of resources.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 4:07pm

    WTF!

    Dog pile any one? Metacrawler?

    I love Google and all, and I relies this is a defensive thing, but GAWWW!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 4:14pm

    The problem is, since they were granted the patent, anyone could have been. Personally, I'm glad Google got it instead of a troll. W/ Google, there is little likelihood that any competitors will be shut down. Of course, if I'm wrong...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 4:38pm

    Re:

    actually, it is likely that someone already has a patent covering it. there are LOTS of duplicate patents...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 4:43pm

    maybe..

    Maybe Google was just covering their tail, perhaps they knew from the pattern of patent trolling that someone would soon sue them over their "Universal Search Engine".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 6:52pm

    "What's unclear to me is how anyone "skilled in the art" could consider this a non-obvious solution."

    The three inventors and their employer should be located near your work location. Pay them a visit and ask your question. Who knows? Maybe the have some insight that may prove useful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Willton, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 10:59pm

    Re:

    One should also keep in mind that this particular patent property was filed in December of 2003 (and likely reduced to practice at an earlier date) and traversed at least 2 rejections in prosecution. Also, from a cursory look at claim 1, it's likely that this patent is considerably narrower than Mike holds it out to be.

    If anyone here has evidence of obviousness that was not covered in prosecution and was public prior to December of 2003, then feel free to present your case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Chad, Nov 11th, 2008 @ 11:52pm

    Looks like this pertains to the "user interfaces that are used to present the results of a search" more than the technology of searching multiple categories (or databases) at once.

    The technology to search through multiple databases and pull up results on a single page have been around for YEARS, and that isn't what's being patented here (as I can tell from a quick read). It's the way the results are gathered and presented that they're talking about in Claim 1 and further in the Description.

    It talks about using a search query to further categorize and present results based on that query rather than having the user manually choose which category to search in. For example if you search for "homes for sale" it might automatically run your search in a "real estate" category. That's the technology in question.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2008 @ 6:47am

    This is likely a defensive move to prevent anyone else from getting a patent on a seemingly obvious evolutionary advance in web search. Until the USPTO reins in the silly side of patents you can expect a lot more of these.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Mike, Nov 12th, 2008 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re:

    Which is why the prognosticating should be left to people who have actually earned licenses to practice before the USPTO, rather than someone who merely scans the title and maybe the abstract, looking for something to moan about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Coral, Nov 12th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    I feel like Z39.50 (a federated search protocol) has been around long enough to count as prior art, if the description of this patent is correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Nov 12th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    For that matter, libraries often have systems that can do that, and have had since before the Web...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    You guys should actually read the claim. It claims a pretty specific implementation and does not purport to broadly claim a search engine that searches multiple databases. It only covers search engines that: search multiple databases, each having a different content-type; display all of the results from one content type together prominently; display all of the results from another content type less prominently; include text snippet summaries for the results in the first content type; do NOT include those snippets for the results in the second content type; etc. Pretty narrow claim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This