In a rare move, given their previous disdain for intellectual property owners, Google released new enhancements to the free Google Patents search engine to help patent owners–along with lawyers, analysts and advisors–identify and investigate potential patent infringement. To avoid potential backlash from a community of activists that have rallied around the search advertising giant, Google conveniently disguised the tool as one aimed at helping to crush intellectual property rights of anyone standing in their way. However, Google’s new capability potentially has broad implications, many of which benefit patent owners looking to improve patent licensing and monetization results using modern technology. A Google blog post also mentions ways the new feature will be refined and improved as they “develop a better understanding of how to analyze patent claims.”
To use the new Infringement Finder feature, simply navigate Google Patents and type in any patent number you might be investigating. For example, suppose you want help identifying infringers of US Patent 6,091,319, a patent on RFID technology now owned by patent licensing firm Round Rock Research, LLC. Once the patent record is received, select the new “Find prior art” link near the top of the screen.
This link brings you to a new page of search results based on keywords extracted from the patent. By default, Google sets the “end date” of the search results as the priority date of the subject patent.
To access the Infringement Finder feature, you only need to remember one of the simplest truisms of patent law: That which infringes if later anticipates if earlier. Thus, by changing the “earlier” (End date) to become “later” (Start date), you can sift through a variety of sources that might indicate infringement.
Google’s motivation to create this new feature are not entirely clear, but they have provided what should be a useful advancement in patent analysis. By speeding up access to information that may lead to evidence of infringement, Google puts more power back into the hands of inventors and patent owners. Perhaps they hope to gain a little positive patent karma after taking ownership of a large patent portfolio from the former Motorola.