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Google Extends Patent Search To Prior Art 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-came-before dept.
mikejuk writes "As well as buying up patents to defend itself against the coming Apple attack on Android, Google is also readying its own technology. It has extended its Patent Search facility to include European patents and has added a Prior Art facility. The new Prior Art facility seems to be valuable both to inventors and to the legal profession. In order to be granted a patent the inventor has to establish that it is a novel idea — and in the current litigious environment companies and their lawyers might want to show that patents should not have been granted."
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Google Extends Patent Search To Prior Art

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  • Doesn't Matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday September 03, 2012 @11:37AM (#41213479)

    In order to be granted a patent the inventor has to establish that it is a novel idea — and in the current litigious environment companies and their lawyers might want to show that patents should not have been granted.

    Can someone explain how this matters when google is 1) Not the patent office, and 2) the courts blatantly ignore prior art anyway?

    It seems to me that you can patent just about anything now with the right wording and money.

    I am filing a patent on "Upright Locomotion for Bipedal Hominids using Two Appendages."

    • Re:Doesn't Matter (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @11:47AM (#41213579)

      Can someone explain how this matters when google is 1) Not the patent office, and 2) the courts blatantly ignore prior art anyway?

      By making this news, maybe Google wants to let Apple know that they're going to have one hell of fight if they go after Android? And maybe prime the legal system (i.e. maybe judges will see this)?

      Just guessing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's cheaper for Google to do the work assigned to the patent office(s) then to pay lawyers for the onslaught of trials from Apple. Attack the problem before they reach Apple legal. Google knows good indexing and searching so why not apply it to patents if it can help the patent clerks making the right decisons.

    • "...with the aid of a mobile device."
    • I am filing a patent on "Upright Locomotion for Bipedal Hominids using Two Appendages."

      Obviously because arm movement is not used in your process, you idea shows unique innovation. BROVO!

      Somewhere in Texas, there is a judge and jury already lined up behind your blockbuster patent!

    • The whole thing can be considered a Nuclear Option by Google.

      1 Google is known for Search
      2 they have massive datafarms (note the Plural there)
      3 Like Everybody can use this

      and do you wanna bet that the normal search will provide results for this???

      I think a bunch of Paralegals just stood up and yelled AMEN!!

    • Re:Doesn't Matter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by erroneus (253617) on Monday September 03, 2012 @12:43PM (#41214079) Homepage

      Google's not just playing the game. Google's out to master it and make it their bitch.

      Things are about to get very very public. Very very high profile. Judges out there will have to do it right or recuse themselves. No more mistrials and crap. The way Google trounced Oracle, I think there is no doubt in my mind that they will do the same to Apple. Apple got away with their Samsung assault because someone let a bad juror through. Google will not make the same mistake.

      Google beat Oracle because they tore down their patents and left them with only some extremely weak arguments that didn't fly in the end. Apple's patents are also crap and Google will, no doubt, preemptively seek to have them invalidated even before they are used against Google or another Android device maker.

      • The most likely outcome is that the two companies settle out of court, even now. All this litigation is merely foreplay, in terms of moving the final settlement slightly one way or the other.

        Nothing to see here, move along...

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      1) Simple : the patents office "research for prior art" consists of little more than thinking of something obvious they have already seen and making a few Google search.

      2) The courts don't ignore it, but they consider a patent valid until a court has ruled otherwise.
    • Re:Doesn't Matter (Score:4, Insightful)

      by twistedcubic (577194) on Monday September 03, 2012 @03:02PM (#41215335)
      "Can someone explain how this matters when google is 1) Not the patent office, and 2) the courts blatantly ignore prior art anyway?"

      It's not that the courts ignore prior art, but that they defer to the patent office. If the courts have to determine whether a patent is valid, what's the point of having a patent office? The proper place to challenge the validity of a patent is at the Patent Office, first, and then the courts if you think you might get lucky.
      • It's not that the courts ignore prior art, but that they defer to the patent office.

        Deferring to the patent office when the decisions of the patent office are being challenged on the grounds of evidence of prior art is ignoring prior art, so the distinction you make is one without a difference.

        If the courts have to determine whether a patent is valid, what's the point of having a patent office?

        If the courts aren't going to enforce the law, including acting to assure that acts of executive branch agencies li

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why bother inventing anything? There are billions (probably an exaggeration) of patents and if you so happen to use a method developed by someone else (or even if you don't, if you take patent trolls into account), you're very likely to get sued. It's just too risky.

    • My suggested aproach to the problem is to kill the patent troll with a headshot (heavy weapons is better) if he tries to sue. The "normal" court way is too flawed (and worst, by design flawed) and rigged to work.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        If this works out the way Google wants it to, it'll be essentially the same thing, If a business model is based on exploiting bad patents, invalidating them all is more effective then a headshot at destroying that business.

    • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SourceFrog (627014) on Monday September 03, 2012 @12:34PM (#41213997)
      What patent law has effectively become, in practice, is a law against inventing (for anyone except the the big entrenched players.)
    • by Surt (22457)

      There are only millions (and not even tens of millions) of patents, so a 1000X exaggeration.

    • by alen (225700)

      sell your patent to intellectual ventures and make money off it, simple

      the problem is that there are so many patents for similar things you'll get pennies for your patent. you have to invent a lot of different things. standards like mp4, wifi and wireless are hundreds or thousands of patents in a single product.

      the days of making a mint of a single patent are long gone

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Time to do away with patents.

  • by pr0nbot (313417) on Monday September 03, 2012 @11:47AM (#41213583)

    Presumably prior art results for patents held by Google will be excluded?

    I doubt they'd really do this, at least not until something embarassing happened, but the point is, how would you know, since it's their engine? (Obviously, only an incompetent would interpret the absence of prior art in Google's database as an absence of prior art.)

    • Why would they, can you name a situation where google attacked with a patent? So far I've only seen them used by google defensively. If google were to have used the patents entirely defensively. If google could invalidate all of the offensive patents coming at them on a regular basis, they would have virtually no use for patents at all.
      • Why would they, can you name a situation where google attacked with a patent?

        There recent lawsuit and ITC complaint against Apple would be an obvious example.

        So far I've only seen them used by google defensively.

        The usual definition of "defensive" use of a patent is to assert infringement only in a counterclaim against a party claiming patent infringement against the "defensive" user. Google's recent use of its patents against Apple has been offensive by that definition. Its often construed as a special ca

        • Perhaps the morals are still boarderline, as is the definition of defensive/offensive, but based on their current business model, google would prefer all sides losing their weapons even at the cost of their own weapons. IMO the losses far outweigh the gains for google, invalidating the entire war is far more in googles intents.
  • by kanweg (771128) on Monday September 03, 2012 @11:59AM (#41213671)

    Cool. As "Do no evil" Google provides customized search results (like Fox telling people only what they want to hear), they surely could provide Apple or the Patent office with search results that don't include prior art to Google's patents. Quite convenient. Hypothetically.

    More seriously, as a patent attorney I already find Google's search facility very worthwhile, as it allows me to do an advance search before a particular date (the priority date or the filing date, to be more specific). This did result in finding prior art that is currently used in opposition proceedings to have a patent revoked. The system works (it is not copyright).

    Bert
    Patent law: Making inventions open source long before the term was coined.
    http://worldwide.espacenet.com/?locale=en_EP [espacenet.com]

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      Right ... like Apple cares about prior art.

      • by kanweg (771128)

        Of course, they care about the prior art. Every applicant does. Ignoring it may mean spending thousands of dollars without a patent in return. Don't forget, patent applications are published after 18 months. That means that if you can't secure a patent, the published application may still contain information of value and you get nothing in return. Plus, the invention may not be necessarily on the market, so filing for the application will tell your competitors in any case what line of thinking/research you'

  • by HalAtWork (926717) on Monday September 03, 2012 @12:11PM (#41213777)
    Google has never been a fan of the patent wars. If Google sets up a search engine for prior art, they will be providing a resource with which many patents can be invalidated. Competitors will fear bias in that the prior art database may give results that are in Google's favor, and perhaps start providing resources that index prior art themselves. Hopefully the whole thing will snowball and show the failure of the current system. However if doubt would be cast on the quality and validity of the results then perhaps nobody will pay attention to this initiative.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      ... which is the more likely scenario.

      By building a search engine, they can no longer claim ignorance about any patent and that will give a green light to the real patent trolls to sued the company to the wazoo.

      Lets face facts, Google is a copycat company. None of their products are original. Google will be spending more money and time defending themselves than actually doing any work.

    • by tooyoung (853621)
      It makes a really good sound bite, especially when you leave out the consideration that the 'prior art' used a completely different methodology. Yes, that's right, the patent describes a method for achieving the desired result. You are free to implement the same perceived behavior, you just need to do it in a different way. Now, you can debate that no software algorithms should be patentable, but that is another discussion. There seems to be a big misunderstanding on slashdot that Apple patented things
      • by cratermoon (765155) on Monday September 03, 2012 @01:49PM (#41214705) Homepage
        A method "obvious to a person that is well-versed in an art" is not supposed to be patentable either. Except Apple added "on a mobile phone", and THEN, well, it changed everything!
        • by tooyoung (853621)
          If it is so obvious, then without reading the patent, please explain how it is done.
  • by fatp (1171151) on Monday September 03, 2012 @12:18PM (#41213857) Journal
    1) Copy whatever Returned by Google Patent Search returns 2) Add several "on a mobile device" 3) File a patent 4) ??? 5) Profit!!
  • Prior Art an extension into archaic, analog and archival, the worth of which now has been monetized in the $Billions.

    GOOG is in the search business!

  • How do you search for european patents? I'm irritated by espacenet.

    • by kanweg (771128)

      I use it frequently. What's your problem? Perhaps I can give a tip that helps (or it may indeed suck).

      Bert

      • No, I seriously prefer google-- how might I use google patents to search for, say "all british patents issued between 1890 and 1923 with these full text search terms?". All I seem to be getting are the US patents, which I've already seen.

        The problems with espace range from "your search returned more than 500 results. Though you probably are interested in result 502,only the first 500 results are shown," to issues with adobe pdf,incompatibilities with tabs, and a host of other niggling issues."

    • by hankwang (413283)

      How do you search for european patents?

      I wondered about that, too. I don't get any EP results, even if I search for an EP number. For example the patents listed on some Espacenet query [espacenet.com], do not return any results on google. [google.com]

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@nOs ... t-retrograde.com> on Monday September 03, 2012 @01:02PM (#41214285)

    Google being a search engine company -- Could you imagine the Google patent lawyers going around asking engineers if they had implemented anything that they could try to patent (as most places do -- not that patents are actually needed to innovate), but unlike other companies the lawyers can't ignore the results from searching the damn "invention" up using their own Google product. Every time I hear about some "innovation" I search up patent claims and find out they omitted prior art -- Sometimes it's my own software -- That prior art may have swayed a patent examiner to label the "invention" as merely iteration, but they only really search what's already patented...

    I'm not arrogant enough to believe in inventions, only discoveries. There is so much that is created and not patented that I'm positive there's prior art for every patent claim, and most are simply obvious (for which there's no test for). See above: Lawyers asking what ordinary individuals skilled in the arts may have created that they can try to patent... not genius inventors saying: "Look at what truly innovative thing I invented! Now if only I can find someone to license it from me!" -- don't have $$$ for regularly scheduled patent lawyer visits? Don't get software patents, don't win in court -- Patents are a tax on innovation. The bar for "genius" has been lowered to any common engineering idea; The bar for "non obvious" has been lowered to "anything not already on file".

    Wouldn't it be fun if Google's "prior art" search just bounced you through LetMeGoogleThatForYou.com? :-P See also: The Drake equation... One answer to the Fermi Paradox is: We still have the primitive idea of a Patent system. If alien life contacted us, the government & corporations would withhold the information from the public and tell ET to fuck right off -- Statistically, Aliens already have "prior art" for every thing! They would destroy our patent system just by existing!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google will archive all queries and say they show someone had the same ideas before, and therefore they're not patentable.

  • by zrelativity (963547) on Monday September 03, 2012 @01:49PM (#41214707)
    Prior arts are patents also, and they may not have expired.

    Let Google engineers go do Prior Art Search, or lookup prior patents and start developing in those area.

    Even better is that Google keep a history of such search results performed by their engineers.

    When they are sued for patent infringement, and asked to handover the search results, it would be fun to watch.

    As an engineer, the advice I have always received, "Do not do any patent or prior art search". Leave that to the lawyer. Avoid getting tainted. Avoid doing what Samsung been caught doing.

    • by kanweg (771128)

      "Prior arts are patents also, and they may not have expired."
      Prior art can be anything, including a web page (I used one as such, I was pleased that it contained a date), a product sold, in short anything available to the public (irrespective of whether it was actually accessed) anywhere in the world.

      Bert

    • As an engineer, the advice I have always received, "Do not do any patent or prior art search". Leave that to the lawyer. Avoid getting tainted. Avoid doing what Samsung been caught doing.

      The patent trolls will harass you anyway, no matter how much you try to avoid breaking the "imaginary patents" of them. How will you avoid infringing a patent on "rectangular objects with rounded corners"? You can make a square object, right? Then another troll will try to sue you for infringing his patent on square objects.

      The only way to win this "game" is to ignore the troll and and kick him from the 14th floor if he insists. It's just stupid to spend millions of dollars to defend itself against a ri

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Willfull infringement is triple damages. Therefore it's much more advantageous to not know about any previous patents first, as there's no risk of being accused of it. That's why lawyers always advise engineers to keep well out of patent searches.

  • While there is much dissent about the broken status of the patents systems - everywhere - this initiative just MIGHT start to shed some light on the ridiculousness of many patents. Who knows, even the idiot judges, who are supposed to represent the mythical "reasonable man", may finally come to the realization that - despite who has the most money, or the lawyers with the biggest fangs - many patents which have been granted are ridiculously obvious and the ideas had existed, and been in common use, for cen

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