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Search giant Google has taken another step in its quest to index all of human knowledge. This week, Google introduced a new section of its Google Patent search which allows anyone to search not only existing patents, but also prior art. Google’s introduction to its new Patent search:
“Typically, patents are granted only if an invention is new and not obvious. To explain why an invention is new, inventors will usually cite prior art such as earlier patent applications or journal articles. Determining the novelty of a patent can be difficult, requiring a laborious search through many sources, and so we’ve built a Prior Art Finder to make this process easier. With a single click, it searches multiple sources for related content that existed at the time the patent was filed.”
Jon Orwant, the head of Google’s Patent Search team, stated that web traffic to Patent Search has doubled recently, a trend that he attributes to an increase in high-profile, high-stakes patent litigation. “People are thinking about patents a whole lot more,” he notes. One of the biggest examples of this type of patent litigation is the Apple v. Samsung battle. Hopefully, Apple and Samsung can use this search in the future to prevent them from stepping on each other’s toes, which could end up in billion-dollar lawsuits.
The new Patent Search does beg a couple of questions: As most lawyers are aware, one should not give legal advice to someone who is not a client, could this new search rise to the level of prior art? How much reliance may users place on Google’s efforts to index all patents and prior art? And most importantly, perhaps Google should do a search to makes sure there is no prior art for a prior art search. The irony would be almost too much to handle.
– Brandon Trout
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