Broadening Google Patents

Cross-posted with the European Public Policy Blog and Inside Search Blog.

Last year, we launched two improvements to Google Patents: the Prior Art Finder and European Patent Office (EPO) patents. Today we’re happy to announce the addition of documents from four new patent agencies: China, Germany, Canada, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Many of these documents may provide prior art for future patent applications, and we hope their increased discoverability will improve the quality of patents in the U.S. and worldwide.

So if you want to learn about a Chinese dual-drive bicycle, a German valve for inflating bicycle tires, attach a Canadian trailer to your bike, or read the WIPO application for pedalling with one leg, those and millions of other inventions are now available on Google Patents.

Thanks to Google Translate, all patents are available in both their original languages and in English, and you can search across the world’s patents using terms in any of those languages. When there are multiple submission languages, you can move between them with a single click on the tabs at the top of the page, as shown in the screenshot below:



Happy patent searching!


Posted by Jon Orwant, Engineering Manager


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More patents in the service of open source

Posted by Duane Valz, Senior Patent Counsel

Open-source software has accelerated the pace of innovation in computing, leading to better products and services at lower cost. But as the impact of open-source software has grown, so too has the number of patent attacks against it.

In March, we announced an Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge—committing not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Our goal was to encourage pro-competitive, defensive uses of patents to support open-source innovation.

Today we are pleased to expand the OPN Pledge to include an additional 79 patents. These patents cover software used to efficiently operate data centers, including middleware, distributed storage management, distributed database management, and alarm monitoring.

We acquired these patents from IBM and CA Technologies, companies that in 2005 were among the first to make open-source patent pledges. The goal of the patent system is to foster innovation, and we aim to use patents, whether acquired or developed internally, in support of that goal.

You can learn more about this second group of patents and the Pledge itself on our site, which we’ve also updated to make it easier to browse and download data on pledged patents.

To date, the patents we’ve included in the Pledge have generally related to “back-end” technologies: servers, data centers, and the like. But open-source software is also transforming the development of consumer products that people use every day—so stay tuned for additional extensions to patents covering those sorts of technologies.


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It’s time to take action against patent trolls and patent privateering

Posted by Matthew Bye, Senior Competition Counsel

Today, we submitted comments together with BlackBerry, EarthLink and Red Hat to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice on the growing harm caused by patent assertion entities (more widely known as patent trolls).

We’ve been encouraged by recent attention on the problem of trolls, which cost the U.S. economy nearly $30 billion a year. Trolls are hurting consumers and are increasingly going after small businesses, hampering innovation and reducing competition.

Our comments today also focus on a worrisome trend: some companies are increasingly transferring patents to trolls—and providing incentives to assert those patents against their competitors. These transfers can raise rivals’ costs and undermine patent peace.  

This trend has been referred to as “patent privateering”: a company sells patents to trolls with the goal of waging asymmetric warfare against its competitors.

Trolls use the patents they receive to sue with impunity—since they don’t make anything, they can’t be countersued. The transferring company hides behind the troll to shield itself from litigation, and sometimes even arranges to get a cut of the money extracted by troll lawsuits and licenses.

Privateering lets a company split its patent portfolio into smaller sub-portfolios “stacked” on each other, increasing the number of entities a firm must negotiate with and multiplying licensing costs. This behavior unfairly raises competitors’ costs, ultimately driving up prices for consumers.

It also undermines incentives for companies to work together towards “patent peace” through good-faith negotiation and cross-licensing. If cross-licensing is nuclear deterrence for patents, then privateering has the opposite effect, facilitating patent proliferation and aggression.

We’re asking other companies to work with us to develop cooperative licensing agreements that can help curb privateering. We’re also encouraged that the FTC and DOJ are paying attention to this critical issue, and we hope they will continue to study how abusive troll litigation and patent privateering are harming innovative industries.


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