Tag Archives: Patents

Improving patent quality one search at a time

Good patents support innovation while bad patents hinder it. Bad patents drive up costs for innovative companies that must choose between paying undeserved license fees or staggering litigation costs. That’s why today we are excited to launch a new version of Google Patents, which has the power to improve patent quality by helping experts and the public find the most relevant references for judging whether a patent is valid.

The ability to search for the most relevant references--the best prior art--is more important today than ever. Patent filings have steadily increased with 600,000 applications filed and 300,000 patents issued in 2014 alone. At the same time, litigation rates are continuing their dramatic climb, with patent trolls bringing the majority of cases, hitting companies of every size in industries from high-tech to main street. 

Traditional searches often focus on other patents. But the best prior art might be a harder-to-find book, article, or manual. That was true in the “shopping cart” patent case. After many companies paid out millions in settlements, a court finally struck down the patent in light of two books that were not found by the examiner who issued the patent.

The new Google Patents helps users find non-patent prior art by cataloguing it, using the same scheme that applies to patents. We’ve trained a machine classification model to classify everything found in Google Scholar using Cooperative Patent Classification codes. Now users can search for “autonomous vehicles” or “email encryption” and find prior art across patents, technical journals, scientific books, and more.

We’ve also simplified the interface, giving users one location for all patent-related searching and intuitive search fields. And thanks to Google Translate, users can search for foreign patent documents using English keywords. As we said in our May 2015 comments on the PTO’s Patent Quality Initiative, we hope this tool will make patent examination more efficient and help stop bad patents from issuing which would be good for innovation and benefit the public.

Posted by Allen Lo, Deputy General Counsel for Patents and Ian Wetherbee, Software Engineer for Google Patents

Announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion

We invite you to sell us your patents. The Patent Purchase Promotion is an experimental marketplace for patents that’s simple, easy to use, and fast.

Patent owners sell patents for numerous reasons (such as the need to raise money or changes in a company’s business direction). Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls. Then bad things happen, like lawsuits, lots of wasted effort, and generally bad karma. Rarely does this provide any meaningful benefit to the original patent owner.

So today we’re announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion as an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. From May 8, 2015 through May 22, 2015, we’ll open a streamlined portal for patent holders to tell Google about patents they’re willing to sell at a price they set. As soon as the portal closes, we’ll review all the submissions, and let the submitters know whether we’re interested in buying their patents by June 26, 2015. If we contact you about purchasing your patent, we’ll work through some additional diligence with you and look to close a transaction in short order. We anticipate everyone we transact with getting paid by late August.

By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly. Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls.

There’s some fine print that you absolutely want to make sure you fully understand before participating, and we encourage participants to speak with an attorney. More detailed information about the Patent Purchase Promotion is available on our Patent Website, including all the fine print, the form to make a submission (which won’t go live until May 8), and details about what happens if Google agrees to buy your patent. Throughout this process, Google reserves the right to not transact for any reason. 

We’re always looking at ways that can help improve the patent landscape and make the patent system work better for everyone. We ask everyone to remember that this program is an experiment (think of it like a 20 percent project for Google’s patent lawyers), but we hope that it proves useful and delivers great results to participants.