INTERNET ADVERTISING BROKER Google has introduced capabilities to search European patents and look for prior art.
Google, which recently spent $12.5bn buying Motorola Mobility for its vast patent portfolio, has tried to cut down on legal fees by offering the ability to search patents. The firm had already released a US Patent Office search some years ago, but now has extended that to the European Patent Office and the ability to search for prior art.
Google said the Prior Art Finder analyses the text of the patent and composes a search query that goes through patents, books and published papers. Prior art is often at the centre of patent infringement lawsuits, with both sides trying to find some prior art that derails their opponent's case.
Google said, "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."
As Google's search tools will make it easier to find ways of questioning existing patents, one has to wonder how long it will be before a company will use it to head off a competitor without hiring highly paid patent lawyers. µ