Google Launches 'Prior Art Finder' For Patents

from the interesting-development dept

Google has announced a new offering called the Prior Art Finder, in which it tries to help anyone find prior art on patents. When you view a patent via Google's patent database, there will now be a button you can click, which tries to take terms from the patent, and displays a variety of related info from the date that the patent was filed:
The Prior Art Finder identifies key phrases from the text of the patent, combines them into a search query, and displays relevant results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, and the rest of the web. You’ll start to see the blue “Find prior art” button on individual patent pages starting today.
What I find most interesting about this is the fact that they're dating the results of the search to anything existing prior to the date of the filing. One of the big complaints that people make when others discuss how obvious or non-novel a patent is, is that it's impossible to go back to how the world was at the time the patent was filed. This effort seems to take one step in the direction of fixing that, though the quality of the results will matter quite a bit. I do wonder how useful this tool will be in the early days (especially concerning much older patents when there wasn't nearly as much info online), but I could see how it would become much more useful in the future, as Google both improves it and when it's searching a much larger database of knowledge and information.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:00am

    Assuming Google keeps it up

    Recently Google has acquired a reputation for launching new stuff and then losing interest a while klater - let's hope that doesn't happen here.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:05am

    Did they patent that?

     

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    Steve, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:23am

    About sodding time.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:23am

    And the patent trolls cried in despair. Judges on patent cases and the ones granting the patents should bookmark this.

     

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  5.  
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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:25am

    Re: Assuming Google keeps it up

    Looks like they've been at a specific patent search for 6 years.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Patents

    I bet they know it's in their own interest to make the poor system we have work as best as we can; and it fits in with their general ideology of organizing the worlds information. They may roll it into another service somewhere down the road, but I doubt we'll lose the functionality without some company-wide catastrophe.

     

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:27am

    The best part of this to me is to show just how trivial finding prior art can be for some patents. Look, a machine dug this up in milliseconds, and it doesn't even understand the concepts involved. "Dear Patent Examiners, you can do better."

     

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    Steve, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Crowdsourcing

    Sould we be thinking of, or does it already exist, some kind of crowdsourcing approach whereby a troll victim could post to a site the subject of litigation and then let the power of the crowd find prior art?

     

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  8.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:41am

    Re: Crowdsourcing

    EFF are already doing this - here

    https://www.eff.org/patent-busting

     

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  9.  
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    abc gum, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 4:47am

    Apparently the uspto does not use the internet to search for prior art, are they told not to?
    Has Google been added to their blacklist yet? If this affects their bottom line, it will be - and I'm sure they will have some bizarro rational for doing so.

     

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  10.  
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    Flix (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 5:13am

    Re: Re: Crowdsourcing

    System and method for crowdsourced prior art finding online... I wonder if:
    A) Has EFF patented this?
    B) If not, would a troll be daring to take on EFF?

     

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  11.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 5:21am

    Re:

    Apparently the uspto does not use the internet to search for prior art, are they told not to?

    Of course - if they did search the internet then the number of patents granted would fall to zero.

     

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  12.  
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    The Spork (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    The score

    Google-1 Patent troll-0

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 6:14am

    um, so ? ? ?

    i don't get it: USPTO ignores prior art as it is, HOW is simply having an easy search mechanism (for regular people) going to 'force' them to acknowledge prior art ? ? ?
    seems like it is just going to make the frustration of patent applicants more intense when their super-duper-googleized prior art esearch is ignored, just like always...
    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  14.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 6:28am

    At last!

    At long last, Congress, the Courts and the USPTO will now finally work together . . .

    . . . to ensure that patent examiners, patent attorneys, and judges on patent cases are forbidden to use this site.

     

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  15.  
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    artp (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 7:44am

    Re: Crowdsourcing

    Groklaw does this on occasion. The results ended up being demonstrated in court once - on an ancient system someone had in the back of a closet. I think it was an Amiga.

    http://www.groklaw.net/index.php

     

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  16.  
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    Patrick, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 7:46am

    Patent Owners Despair? Hardly

    "That which infringes if later anticipates if earlier."

    This is really an Infringement Finder if you know how to cut-and-paste.

    http://gametimeip.com/2012/08/14/google-helps-patent-enforcement-companies-with-ne w-infringement-finder/

     

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    johnny canada, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 8:29am

    Can some one forward the link to Apple.

    They can use it in the future.

     

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    facebook covers (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 8:35am

    Very awesome. Just another reason to love Google!

     

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  19.  
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    Jim McCoy (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Prior Art Argument

    Isn't everything based upon prior art?

    I mean I understand that something do seem and probably are trivial; but this almost seems like attempt to get anything someone comes up with dismissed (or worse, forced to give away ) based upon the assumption of some previous technique.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but even prior art evolves if someone dedicates time and energy to find a better way of doing something. And giving away one's time and effort for the "betterment of society" is nice and all, but it doesn't put food on the table for very long. At worse, it turns on into a worker drone, always trying to stay ahead of some never-ending path.

    I guess as I see it, patents serve to allow one to get a breather and possibly enjoy some of the reward of the work they put in. The evolution of technology is inevitable, but going at a break-neck pace is unhealthy.

    Jim

     

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  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:11am

    Re: um, so ? ? ?

    For as long as I've had to pay attention to patents, prior art has never been a big factor is the granting of the patent. It mostly comes into play when someone is disputing the validity of a patent.

    So it's a bit like copyright's "fair use" -- it doesn't count for much until you're actually in court.

     

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  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:15am

    Re: Prior Art Argument

    Prior art is not intended to prevent patents from improving an existing invention (which is what most patents are about). It's intended to prevent people from patenting things that already existed.

    If I develop a better car tire, the fact that car tires already exist does not invalidate the patent. If, however, my improvement already existed prior to my filing or I want to patent the concept of the car tire itself, the patent should not be valid.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 15th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    This might have actually mattered...

    ...had the US not gone with a system that makes prior art moot, and instead only cares about who filed for a given patent first.

    As it is it's a cool system, but seems to me to be pretty useless legally, at least with regards to the US.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 11:28am

    The new US system doesn't make prior art moot... It just makes two competitors developong the same thing have to race to the USPTO. Prior art, in the form of pre-existing product, and published non-patented inventions is still, technically, a bar to a new patent.

     

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  24.  
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    Autonomous Trollware, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

    Pirate freetard google helping thieves to invalidate the property rights of hard working inventors.

    Good old pirate Mike is still sucking the big search cock

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

    this doesn't technically work, but it was a funny thing happening in my head anyways:

    Step 1: make obvious patent with prior art
    Step 2: place DMCA takedown notices on old patents, to get them google search engine downgraded.
    Step 3: Profit from lack of anyone being able to find prior art

     

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  26.  
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    staff, Aug 17th, 2012 @ 8:10am

    what do you know about patents?

    "What I find most interesting about this is the fact that they're dating the results of the search to anything existing prior to the date of the filing"

    That's because you cannot invalidate a patent with art dated after the date of filing. Once again, all you know about patents is you don't have any.

     

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  27.  
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    Philly Bob, Aug 17th, 2012 @ 9:50am

    The patent trolls will take this down.
    It infringes on their right to sue for infringement.

     

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