sherlock holmesDo you want to find out whether your better mousetrap is patentable?  For inventors and patent attorneys, Google Patent Search is a cheap (as in free) and easy way to perform a light-weight screening search.  Since 2006, Google Patent Search has allowed use of familiar word searching skills to search a database of U.S. patents and published applications.   Google has announced that the database is expanded to include not only U.S. patent prior art but also patent applications published by the European Patent Office.  As of this writing, European patent publications do not yet appear to be showing up on Google Patent Search.

Google also has launched a very interesting new feature call ‘Find Prior Art,’ which appears as a button on the search results page.  The ‘find prior art’ button allows the searcher to select search terms suggested by the search engine or to select the searcher’s own terms.  The search engine then looks for both patent and non-patent prior art using those terms and returns the ten best results.   The author recently took the ‘Find Prior Art’ button out for a test drive.  The search terms suggested by the search engine were not useful; however, using the author’s search terms, the ‘Find Prior Art’ button found relevant non-patent technical treatises.

Another useful searching resource is ‘Google Scholar,’ which provides word search access to Google’s database of technical treatises and abstracts.  Google Scholar also can be used to search patents.  You can locate ‘Google Patent Search’ and ‘Google Scholar’ by following the links above or entering those terms in any web search engine.

–Robert Yarbrough, Esq.