While you may assume that only Web geeks and overzealous bloggers search for patents, truth is there's a would-be inventor inside all of us (that's the part that reaches for Popular Mechanics on the magazine rack, you know it's true). And while you may think Google's new patent search is another oddball one-off from the company-that-knows-no-focus, I would submit several great reasons for Google to launch it:
- Google understands that individuals, not companies, are responsible for the bulk of creation online. This trend will only increase in the future. Thus it stands to reason that those same inventors are interested in previous inventions, will search for them and will be interested in ads shown alongside them.
- As you may have noticed in the last few years, patent disputes have only been increasing. This is due not only to the rapid pace of invention online, but also to the fact that patents for online technologies can often be for very small, innocuous items.
- By studying what patents Web users are searching for, Google can get another headstart on the Web's zeitgeist. "Look, there were 10,203 searches for something called a Happy Fun Ball. Let's build it!"
- Google wanted to make Bill Slawski's life easier.
Speaking of Bill, he's got a great rundown on how Google's patent search differs from that of the USPTO. Bill: "It appears that there is some type of filtering going on here to limit the number of documents returned. While that might not be a bad idea, the fact that the reasons why thousands of documents might not appear as a result of a search, without any transparent understanding of why, might be troublesome to many searchers who rely more on accuracy than some machine generated relevance."