Darling Google has released Google Patent Search. This is an incredible boon for patent agents and intellectual property professionals searching for prior art in the USPTO database, because USPTO’s website frankly isn’t terribly good. For starters, the search engine didn’t dig very deeply into the documents themselves.
It’s so bad in fact that a cottage industry of patent search companies and services has sprung up. Our own law department retained a ridiculously expensive piece of software for the sole purpose of extracting patents from the USPTO for perusal.
Wired comments that this is definitely a search that caters to a very niche and exclusive audience. Perhaps this is yet another initiative, like eco-friendly power supplies, that Google hopes to reap externalities from. After all, now that full text searching on filed patents is fast, accurate and free to all, Google has just made the patent system a lot more transparent, making it more difficult for patent trolls to thrive.
UPDATE: Dennis Couch of Patently-O weighs in. The general consensus is that it’s fast, but not as accurate as they would prefer.