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.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Google Patents Searching Through Multiple Categories At Once”

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12 Comments
Willton says:

Re: 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.

Chad says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

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