Google’s Patent Search engine is a valuable and underutilized tool for inventors and businesses. It allows users to search several patent offices at once for granted patents, published patent applications, and even prior art.
While the search engine previously only covered the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO), Google recently announced a significant expansion. Patents are now available from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China, Germany, and Canada.
As detailed by Google, users can search by several criteria such as patent number, inventor, classification, and filing date. The documents originate directly from the applicable patent office. They are available in their native language and can also be converted to English using Google Translate.
Google’s Patent Search tool also offers free bulk downloads of patent and trademark data from the USPTO. Documents were previously only attainable on a file-by-file basis from the USPTO website, or in bulk via CDs, DVDs, or digital tape for a sizable fee.
Finally, Google’s Prior Art Finder is another useful tool. It identifies key phrases from its database of patent documents creates a search query, and provides results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, and the rest of the Internet.