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Google updates its own IP search engine in hopes of curbing patent lawsuits

By Jessica Karmasek | Jul 29, 2015

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - In an effort to curb bad patents and slow litigation rates, Google Inc. announced this month it has updated its own search engine for patents and intellectual property.

The search engine giant said in a blog post July 16 it was launching a new version of Google Patents.

Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents, and software engineer Ian Wetherbee said the updated search will help experts and the public find the most relevant references for judging whether a patent is valid.

Lo and Wetherbee contend the ability to search for the best “prior art” is more important today than ever. Prior art is defined as information made available to the public in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent’s claims of originality.

Google pointed to the increase in patent filings -- 600,000 applications were filed and 300,000 patents were issued last year alone.

The company, which continues to lobby for patent reform legislation, also pointed to “climbing” litigation rates and the impact of lawsuits brought by so-called patent “trolls” on businesses.

“Good patents support innovation while bad patents hinder it,” Lo and Wetherbee wrote.

“Bad patents drive up costs for innovative companies that must choose between paying undeserved license fees or staggering litigation costs.”

Traditional searches, Google noted, often focus on other patents.

“But the best prior art might be a harder-to-find book, article or manual,” Lo and Wetherbee added.

The new Google Patents will help users find non-patent prior art by cataloguing it, using the same scheme that applies to patents, the company explained.

“We’ve trained a machine classification model to classify everything found in Google Scholar using Cooperative Patent Classification codes,” Lo and Wetherbee wrote. “Now users can search for ‘autonomous vehicles’ or email encryption’ and find prior art across patents, technical journals, scientific books and more.

“We’ve also simplified the interface, giving users one location for all patent-related searching and intuitive search fields.”

Users also will be able to search for foreign patent documents using English keywords, thanks to Google Translate.

“As we said in our May 2015 comments on the PTO’s Patent Quality Initiative, we hope this tool will make patent examination more efficient and help stop bad patents from issuing which would be good for innovation and benefit the public,” the company said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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