Another cybertool improvement for our increasingly cyberlitigious times: Google earlier today announced a prior art finder as well as a way to search patent requests that get submitted to the European Patent Office.
Typically, patents are granted only if an invention is new and not obvious. To explain why an invention is new, inventors will usually cite prior art such as earlier patent applications or journal articles. Determining the novelty of a patent can be difficult, requiring a laborious search through many sources, and so we've built a Prior Art Finder to make this process easier. With a single click, it searches multiple sources for related content that existed at the time the patent was filed.
The Prior Art Finder identifies key phrases from the text of the patent, combines them into a search query, and displays relevant results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, and the rest of the Web. You'll start to see the blue "Find prior art" button on individual patent pages starting today.
Our hope is that this tool will give patent searchers another way to discover information relevant to a patent application, supplementing the search techniques they use today. We'll be refining and extending the Prior Art Finder as we develop a better understanding of how to analyze patent claims and how to integrate the results into the workflow of patent searchers.