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#1 JohnMu

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 03:28 AM

Google has launched their Patent search (see their blog).

It looks like fun, but is it useful?

Patent search seems like a very specific application which probably competes with list of professional (and possibly expensive) applications. I wonder how it holds up? Or is it meant to be more of a fun application for curious but mostly hobbyist users?

At the very least I doubt the SEOs will be targeting it :D :D (but for what it's worth, the author tag seems to have more weight than the others -- top entry for "Google" is "SANITARY DEVICE FOR REPELLING MOSQUITOES AND OTHER INSECTS" by CHAULES P. GOOGLE )

What's your take on it, Bill?

John

#2 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 04:30 AM

I'd imagine the search will be useful for those, who know the patent language, like the scientists themselves and Bill, of course.

#3 JohnMu

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 04:55 AM

That's what I wonder about, A.N.Onym ... will professional researchers really be able to profit from something like this? Does it offer unique value? I imagine it is a 20% project from some employees -- is it really up to par with the professional services available (not to say it isn't good)?

Things like "book search" are basically new and do not have to compete with known and proven systems. Patent search however is in an area where there are already several systems available and I imagine those systems took a long time to get it right. Maybe whoever is behind Google Patent Search is someone who has worked intensely with the existing services, I don't know.

Also, since patent search is generally something done by professionals, there is usually a certain amount of money available to pay for services like that. I wonder how a free service like this will be able to compete - or stirr up the market?

Google has entered other markets before so who knows :D. I just have trouble seeing how patent search would fit in with the rest of their product palette (but that's Google for you :D). I wonder what the next step would be? Google-LexisNexis?

John

Edited by softplus, 14 December 2006 - 04:55 AM.


#4 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 05:12 AM

Well, I'd surmise that professional patent searches are not rivaled by the Google Patent Search. Professionals know their way around and various pitfalls with patents, while the G search can only be used for something you already know how to name.

What if I am lazy to search or don't know the language? I'll use a professional (or ask Bill nicely :D ).

It certainly looks like a 20% project. No significant money-making potential here, just more people using G.

As for professionals using this search, it may very well be one of their tools of choice, if it is done right, of course.

#5 JohnMu

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 05:36 AM

One thing is for certain though, Google knows how to search data and how to get very relevant results from an extremly large dataset. The patent database is very large, a world-wide patent database would be even larger :D

Google has frameworks for a lot of the things it does - it can very quickly put together a new search system for just about anything in a very short time (including - as we see here - scanned documents). What kind of data has not been searchable so far?

John

#6 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 05:38 AM

What kind of data has not been searchable so far?

Your (our) personal data?

#7 feedthebot

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 07:19 AM

top entry for "Google" is "SANITARY DEVICE FOR REPELLING MOSQUITOES AND OTHER INSECTS" by CHAULES P. GOOGLE


Priceless.

#8 bragadocchio

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 07:40 AM

It has opened up a few hundred years worth of patents to people that can't be accessed from the USPTO, which is really wonderful. Students and scholars and the curious can now easily look up stuff invented by people like Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla, or many other folks.

The artwork in many of these patents is now easily accessible, and most are in the public domain.

Danny wrote an article about the patent search yesterday, and I added a long postscript to it here:

http://searchenginel...1213-200005.php

I've listed a number of papers at the end of that, which discuss a lot of the issues around patent search.

One of the big issues that exists, which may limit its usefulness to patent searchers is that it does use a black box of an algorithm to exclude some (in some cases many) results, and doesn't provide a clear reason why, other than saying that it is returning relevant results as determined by its algorithms.

The straightforward keyword matching, and presentation of results in date order, of the USPTO results for a search provide great recall, but a lot of noise as well.

I do think that this will open up a lot of information to people, but won't replace completely searches at the US patent office. It's a tremendous accomplishment.

Once they start updating as frequently as the patent office does, I suspect that we'll see more people writing posts in blogs about new patents - it does make them more accessible.

#9 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 08:02 AM

So, Bill, you'll be looking at some competition in the patent discovery/decoding niche?

Edited by A.N.Onym, 14 December 2006 - 08:04 AM.


#10 bragadocchio

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 08:19 AM

The more the merrier, Yuri.

If more people spend time discovering and decoding, then there's more time to spend with them discussing those. :D

#11 eKstreme

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 10:05 AM

Well my work involves a lot of patent searching, so here goes Pierre Five Minute Test:

The search is very fast, but really, they should default to the advanced search form. I suspect most people will end up using that anyway.

The interface is HORRIBLE! I'm sorry, but it's too cluttered and ugly. Why can't G spend 5 minutes and think about how to display the information? The two columns really don't work, especially the way the "search this patent" results are shown.

Also, where is the PDF export? Or a print feature? If I find an important patent, I like to keep a copy of it on my HDD - or at least a print out.

And the "read the patent" just plain sucks: it's image-based not free text based. The images are also of low quality so that they're hard to read anyway, and when you zoom to read better, it actually gets worse.

Incidentally, if you want the BEST patent search website, it's Free Patents Online. They have full text search, patents rendered as text, super-advanced search features (they put Google's to shame, frankly), portfolio management, PDF export, etc etc. Google would have done better to have bought them out.

Thus ends my 5 minute review. I'll still play with it a bit more, but I think they should try again....

Pierre

#12 JohnMu

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 10:37 AM

Are patents protected by some sort of copyright? You mention the export to PDF...

Would it be legal to download those patents and put them online yourself? (can you tell I'm a complete newbie at this? lol)

From your comments, Pierre, I take it that it's aimed more at the curious users than the real patent researcher?

John

#13 eKstreme

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 10:47 AM

Are patents protected by some sort of copyright? You mention the export to PDF...

Not that I know of. All patent searching tools export to PDF.

Come to think of it (and I could be wrong here): patents are produced by the government, so they are public domain by default. Also, by definition, patents are public disclosure (in return for a time-limited monopoly).

Would it be legal to download those patents and put them online yourself? (can you tell I'm a complete newbie at this? lol)

Nothing is stopping you. Heck, you can find RSS feeds for patents, updated weekly. Think of all the keyword rich content they represent!

From your comments, Pierre, I take it that it's aimed more at the curious users than the real patent researcher?

I've been known to go through 50-60 patents a day ("brain dead" takes on a new meaning around the time you get to patent 5). The things that matter are quick navigation, excellent search facilities, full export, free text browsing, quickly find out which patents are referenced and finding out who references the patent you're reading, and most importantly, a tidy interface. As a first stab, Google's patent search is lacking.

My prediction is that we'll see a huge wave of "hey look what I found" kind of blog posts.

Pierre

PS - I will hold back from posting for a wee bit :) I must!

#14 JohnMu

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:14 AM

PS - I will hold back from posting for a wee bit - I must!

ha ha, that's what I was aiming for, sorry :) :D

I love looking through patents, but I'm just browsing ...

John

#15 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 04:04 PM

Saw this on Wired this morning:

Google Launches Patent Search

Patent Search uses the same technology as Book Search, which means you can scroll through pages and zoom in and out on text and illustrations. So far you are limited to viewing the original documents but the Google Blog says that saving and printing features will be coming soon. ... Google says there are currently 7 million patents in the database and many more will be added in the future. At the moment the patents stop around the middle of 2006, but the records go back over 200 years.


Just out of curiosity, I decided to search for the literal phrase "web site navigation" just to see what craziness this might reveal. Not sure I found anything of interest ... these things are written so obscurely it's hard to tell what they heck they mean.

"web site navigation" patents per Google


<moderator's note - this was a separate thread - I merged them together.>

Edited by bragadocchio, 15 December 2006 - 02:43 AM.




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