back to article Ready to patent that 'new' invention? Google is here to dash your hopes

The technology giant has created a new 'Prior Art Finder' which enables users to search "multiple sources" in order to review whether ideas they hope to patent are in fact novel. The tool, which "instantly pulls together information relevant" to patent applications, will enable inventors to review documents submitted with both …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good on them

    Of course the cynic in me thinks that this is just google's latest tool in their fight with apple...

    Apple: You're infringing our patents!

    Google: clickety click click....... your patents are invalid - look, here's the prior art.

    Apple: bugger.

    Google: Ker-ching!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good on them

      I suspect that is part of the reason, but just because a tool was developed for one purpose, does not invalidate its usefulness to others..

      1. Steve I
        Stop

        Re: Good on them

        "just because a tool was developed for one purpose, does not invalidate its usefulness to others.."

        Talking to some examiners at the EPO, a new use for an existing 'thing' is not grounds to grant a patent.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good on them

      The cynic in me would think that looking at prior art should be part of the patent office's job already.

      1. Chris007
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Good on them @ AC 17/08 09:59 GMT

        "The cynic in me would think that looking at prior art should be part of the patent office's job already"

        Exactly what Google would like them to do - Prior art Patent searches through *google* infrastructure, what could possibly happen here...

        Patent office bod: "I've done a search on this latest Apple patent and the [Google] prior art search engine says that this has more prior art than a disney studio. Patent denied"

        Google exec at the same time "mwahaha"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good on them

      Either that or they can front-run your patent application...

      1. Search for prior art

      2. None found

      3. Automatically file application or notify Google engineer to investigate

      4. Profit.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. asdf Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Good on them

      Me thinks Google might get some resistance from the system on this one. Lawyers would much prefer you pay them hundreds of dollars an hour to search for you and in most countries the law is largely written by people who are/were lawyers by trade. Easy prior art threatens the whole giant legal fee generation system that is the patent system.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good on them

      More likely it is for their own benefit so when they bid on patents from Kodak and others then know they're getting value for money.

      Google does buy IP and patents, so they believe in protectionism too.

  2. David Evans

    Good

    Here's hoping the US Patent office start using it immediately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good

      Wishful thinking unfortunately....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good

        Would affect their books I'm afraid... it's much easier to just rubber stamp, collect fees, and let the courts settle any disputes.

        I don't think they're even required to check... so unless the law changes to require it, I don't see it happening :(

  3. Jon Double Nice

    Do you think...

    that if it doesn't find prior art, it forks a process to register the patent for google, then return and tell you 'oh ya, we have that patent already what what what'

  4. Alister Silver badge

    I wonder what the most searched for phrase will be?

    1. g e

      Gotta be one of ....

      Rectangle

      Round corner

      Slide to unlock

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As usual on every Internet search field

      Porn

    3. dssf

      Most searched for phrase?

      How about most reported phrase, something like

      "This invention covers a wide range of embodiments...." ....

      "Including, but not limited to...."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well Samsung are ****ed then aren't they.

    Oh wait - they use patents for 'inspiration' - I forgot.

  6. Chicken Marengo

    I wonder if 'rounded corners' qualifies as a key phrase.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Holmes

    I wonder if they patented the process?

    1. NightFox
      Mushroom

      I so much hope somebody else has already

  8. Dave 142

    I presume this is a way for Google to steal patents from people.

    1. Ralph B
      Devil

      That's what I was thinking

      There are domain registrars out there that automatically register the domain names you check to see are available. Then you have to buy it from them (and at a premium) if you decide you want it. Would be truly evil if Google were to do the same thing with patents.

      "You want to see if there is prior art for your brilliant idea? Let us check that for you. Ah yes, I'm afraid that's been patented already. By who, you ask? Why, by Google. 5 seconds ago. Bwahahahah."

      1. Peter 48

        Re: That's what I was thinking

        "Then you have to buy it from them (and at a premium) if you decide you want it"

        I presume you are just kidding and know that the money you pay is to register the domain under your name - hence the tile Registrar?

        1. Ralph B

          @Peter 48

          Am I kidding?

          - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_name_front_running

      2. dssf

        Re: That's what I was thinking

        That is why one should NOT search for the desired name, but should instead search *around* it, using wildcards. This way, those mofos waiting to snatch your name can't know exactly what you want. If they try to c*ckblock everyone with all possibilities, the A$$hole$ will go broke, which can't happen $oon enough.

        And, the top registrar should automated rules to tell the searching entrepreneur or corporate name finder the factual time and date of when their attempted/desired name was first and last paid for. If it was less than a minuted ago, the malfeasance/subterfuge should be unwound and the fraudsters stripped of their own domain name, uncompensated.j

    2. Munchausen's proxy
      Black Helicopters

      Or to have the crowd collect the data necessary to invalidate other people's patents through the tool, while entering their own into it somehow never turn up any prior art at all.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Don't tell anyone

    Of course, this assumes that Google isn't evil and wont look at these ideas comming in and think ooo, thats a good idea - fires patent application workflow and beats the user to it.

    1. Whitter

      Re: Don't tell anyone

      Possibly more dangerous from the "non-disclosure" aspect, rather than stealing the idea. That would depend on whether anyone at google ever looks at the logs and if what you asked was enough to disclose the idea. Of course, if what you asked wasn't enough, then it has little purpose as a pre-evaluation tool for the masses, only for those looking at a submitted application (i.e. US patent officers saying no to Apple's latest "patent the obvious" idea).

      There may good use for trying to break a granted patent, though it will still cost you your arm, leg - and those of your granny - to do anything about it.

      But I'd also hope very helpful for one of the underlying purposes of a patent: the public should look through this stuff and learn. It's the flip side that society gets educated for your time-limited (though highly expensive) monopoly.

    2. Dave 62
      Coat

      Re: Don't tell anyone

      The belief that this is possible shows a complete lack of understanding of how searches work, they can't understand natural language and interpret the intent or idea behind it, they just match words and sometimes they have tables of words that are associated with each other, e.g. searching for cock on google will also return results for dick but unless you specify, the google can't tell if you're searching for big hard cocks or a male gallus gallus.

      So for what you're suggesting to be the case google would either have made a massive breakthrough in artificial intelligence, far greater than the computer that won some game show the other day or, google would need an army of cheap and educated labour manually reading and understanding every search and tbpfh* if the intelligence of those in the call centres is anything to go by, India is not the answer.

      I may be taking your post to seriously but seriously, idgaf.

      *to be perfectly fucking honest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have never been to seriously

        is it nice this time of year?

  10. RonWheeler

    Headline is a bit pissy

    The tone implies some secretive agenda rather than simply them providing a service. May or may not be so, but leading the reader to conclusions from the get-go is just crappy BBC style journalism. No doubt there will have been a meeting to decide on what it does somewhere in a google office, which ill have been run 'behind closed doors' by a 'cabal'.

  11. Graham Marsden
    Boffin

    Well it's not exactly rocket science...

    Many years ago I had a neat idea, but a trip down to my local library and a search through some patent records showed that it had already been thought of, a shame, but it saved me wasting time and money.

    Still, perhaps it will stop all these BS patent trolls that are simply stifling innovation with their greed.

  12. Whitter
    Flame

    Seriously?

    "...To qualify for patent protection inventions must primarily be new, take an inventive step that is not obvious and be useful to industry..."

    You actually believe this?

    Very few patents have a truly inventive step - most are just a fairly straightforward extention of a previous system, or an engineering solution that would be "obvious to somebody skilled in the art" but garbled by legalese and/or intentionally dereferenced terminology. Given that they are then reviewed by a patent officer with extremely limited knowledge of the field (and very limited access to relevant journals - and seemilngly even patent applications in different juristictions), the idea that non-obviousness is removed at review time is a non-starter: it's only in court that happens, thus only at huge expense after lawyers have had their fun with warning letters/thats' blackmail responses/injunctions/injunction-rebuttals etc.

    Then again, the true purpose of a patent is not for an inventor to make a bit a of dosh from an idea - extremely few ever do and if you think its you, you're 99.999% likely wrong. It's for huge companies to keep new entrants out of their markets. Even mid-sized companies can't afford a patent dispute, whether comming or going.

    It's a broken system not fit for purpose.

    1. wowfood

      Re: Seriously?

      Given that they are then reviewed by a patent officer with extremely limited knowledge of the field (and very limited access to relevant journals

      ----------------------------------------

      Surely that could be one of the ways in which the new search engine is helpful. Patent registration comes in, search a few keywords on google. "Oh, something pretty similar already exists. Rejected, too many similarities to patent 31337"

      It'd be good if there were a multi-stage process to patent applications though.

      Stage 1: Auto reject. Using tools similar to googles new patent search engine, or the plagurism tools they use on university papers.

      Stage 2a: Approved patents go forward for manual approval

      Stage 2b: Rejected patents get sent back to person applying, if there are few similarities to other patents they can appeal the rejection through a special appeals board who know it's been rejected, these people then check the other patents it's similar to before accepting / rejecting

      Stage 2c: Rejected patents get sent back to person applying, if there are a great deal of similarities all they can do is reword and resubmit, or give up.

      1. Steve I
        Facepalm

        Re: Seriously?

        "a patent officer with extremely limited knowledge of the field"

        All the ones here have either degreess ofr PhD in the relevant field...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously?

      "Given that they are then reviewed by a patent officer with extremely limited knowledge of the field"

      Fact or assumption?

      From the US Patent Office: "It's diligent, challenging work for professionals with knowledge in one or more disciplines - biology, chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering or computer science."

      A current vacancy for a computer science specialist requires a Computer Science degree or a B.S. with combination of coursework

      1. Whitter

        Re: Seriously?

        Fact.

    3. TimNevins
      Joke

      Re: Seriously?

      If you think that "It's for huge companies to keep new entrants out of their markets" then the Patent System is working perfectly.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "There are domain registrars out there that automatically register the domain names you check to see are available"

    Surely easy to cause them some havoc, just search for loads of seemingly meaningful domains you are not interested in and they will soon be out of business.

    1. Pete B

      No - because they simply cancel them before they have to pay for them. I think the idea was intended so that if you made a typo on a registration and immediately realised you could cancel it and register the correct one without having to pay twice. It's abused by the sleazier registrars though.

  14. Only me!
    Coat

    Lets start with with the phase "Tablet and Slate"

    Wonder if it will bring up Stonehenge or at the very least an episode from Star Trek.

    Mines the one with the rounded pockets.

    1. Big_Ted

      Re: Lets start with with the phase "Tablet and Slate"

      Nah it will be Moses and Welsh roofing tiles......

    2. a cynic writes...

      Many a true word...

      The UK Patent Office once turned down an application because the idea had appeared in The Beano. They were very very pleased with themselves.

      1. Graham Marsden

        Re: Many a true word...

        @a cynic writes

        IIRC in the UK (or it may be only England and Wales) once an invention has been demonstrated in public or information about it has been published, it is no longer patentable, it doesn't matter if the publication is in Science magazine or the Beano.

  15. The BigYin

    One simple answer for the tech world

    Is it software? Yes? It cannot be patented. End of discussion.

    1. Big_Ted

      Re: One simple answer for the tech world

      I agree, for a patant it must be something you can touch/hold/feel.

      Otherwise tere should be the right to copyright for a limited time instead.

      Also patants should be limited once granted to a period of 3 years max for a busines larger than a set number of employees and 5 years for less (to give individuals a chance to find someone to help them develope the idea) if you have not produced a solid working model at the least or is you are a medium to large business a production model. If not then the patant ends and anyone can use the idea.

      Software copyrights should be limited to 2 years for the UI look and feel ie slide to unlock and 20 years for core code.

      1. MrXavia
        Megaphone

        Re: One simple answer for the tech world

        I think patents should be for physical developments (such as Dyson's vacuum cleaners) and very complex algorithms I.E. Cryptology. Silly things like Slide to unlock are stupid to patent, and should never have been permitted as they are obvious....

        Look & Feel should definitely not be patentable or copyrightable, but the images/icons themselves should be copyrightable, the program would be copyrighted, as would the code...

        Copyright IS important though, and personal copyright should last 50-70 years (a lot of artists rely on long copyrights for their retirement funds, since they earn little early on) , patents should be 10-20 years depending on the complexity.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: One simple answer for the tech world

          @MrXavia - "and very complex algorithms I.E. Cryptology."

          No. This is boils down to basic laws of physics or mathematical functions. You cannot patent these, or shouldn't be able to at least. Patents are a tool and unfortunately they are tool that is being badly misused at the moment. This is bad for society as there is a massive cost (through loss of innovation etc) and also a cost to those who have genuine things that are protected by patents as the patent system become devalued by utter crap.

          "Look & Feel should definitely not be patentable or copyrightable"

          Actually, I would say look&feel could be copyrightable as this would prevent people "passing off" a product as something it is not.

          "Copyright IS important though, and personal copyright should last 50-70 years."

          You are right about that being important, but I disagree over the term. 10 years is more than long enough. This does of course mean that the way artists are paid needs to change, no argument there; this is a change the media companies are still resisting as they know it is the end of their current business model.

    2. ukgnome Silver badge

      Re: One simple answer for the tech world

      Is it software?

      Well the process of fetching the data can be patented - as long as it uses a new groovy far fetched science fiction way.

      1. The BigYin

        Re: One simple answer for the tech world

        @ukgnome - Fetching data cannot be patented if it is done in software. End of discussion. Yes, it really is that simple.

        Same goes for business processes.

        In fact we can reduce the whole patentability test to two simple questions:

        1) Is it new/innovative/non-obvious?

        2) Can you lick it?

        If the answer to either one is "No", then whatever it is cannot be patented.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Let me guess...

    Like their recent ranking algorithm changes in search this shows less/more irrelevant prior art on patents applied for by Google?

  17. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Flame

    All the absurd retardation of the patent system...

    At your fingertips and in the leader...

    "Prior Art Finder trawls through data in search for replication"

    It's not "replication". It's good, honest work, unfortunately your stuff is already "owned" by somebody else courtesy of the guns and badges of state. Like putting out a contract on your arse before you were even born.

  18. SYNTAX__ERROR
    Alert

    As soon as you enter your idea into the search engine,

    then you will have disclosed that idea - and it will then by definition not be patentable.

    1. bonkers
      Thumb Up

      Re: As soon as you enter your idea into the search engine,

      That's what I thought, the text mentions the full patent application being the inputted data, this is complete disclosure. So, it all rests on the T's&C's of the contract with Google. Normally they only want the right to target ads at you, so there might be (well absolutely must be) a strong NDA implied or defined in these terms. Without this its open to abuse and to invalidation through prior disclosure. The service looks similar to the search the UKTPO offers for £250 - but they are implicitly trusted and submission to them is beyond legal challenge. The corresponding challenge (e.g. Apple lawyers say your granted patent is invalid because you "gave" it to Google as part of your prior art search) needs a test case.

      That said, the basic idea is good if it allows inventors to drop worthless re-inventions, also saving the patent office the search efforts (which they sell at a loss - what can you really get out of a patent expert for less than £250?).

    2. dssf

      Re: As soon as you enter your idea into the search engine,

      Not necessarily. One should search *around* the targeted idea, then let the search engine pull up related ideas. If the system can sleuth out 2d and 3d attributes, it might help the searcher to evaluate without ineptly pre-disclosing his or her idea. However, that is assuming that imagery search tech can workhand-in-hand with the text and with the user AND with the patent offices.

      If one wants to introduce a new spoon, it might be tough, but a copyright might work. What about screenplay software? Such SOFTWARE is not new, but the new presentation and technique may be "interesting" enough to warrant protection. In such cases, patent offices AND copyrigt officesshould be revamped to operate as "one-stop-shopping centers of registration. The fee structures would need overhauling. But, such a setup would help clear, register, and eradicate patent applications and patents awarded.

      1. bonkers

        Re: As soon as you enter your idea into the search engine,

        As I understand it, searching "around" the idea is not a feature of this tool: "The Prior Art Finder identifies key phrases

        *** from the text of the patent, ***

        combines them into a search query, and displays relevant results from [stuff ....]" - the searching around is already a feature of any search engine, you just need to be good at it and find the correct keywords, classification areas - and even then it will not search books, or those journals dedicated to publishing "not quite patent-worthy" inventions.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The great beta-creator

    Google wins all.

  20. mIRCat

    Search for patents today!

    Step 1. Invalidate all patents.

    Step 2. ...

    Step 3. Profit!

  21. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Auto-complete

    Will Google's helpful auto-complete when searching help to identify what others were thinking of patenting?

    I also wonder how valuable it would be knowing that one company searched and found a patent was held by a competitor or even identifying someone who had discovered patents held.

  22. Simon B
    WTF?

    Would YOU trust google with your search data? Ooooh that's a good idea let's nick it crosses my mind evertime I think of searching using google. They have a reputation in my mind for being untrustworthy, so I wouldn't trust them with ANY invention ideas!

  23. Long Fei
    Alert

    Unless

    "To qualify for patent protection inventions must primarily be new, take an inventive step that is not obvious and be useful to industry."

    - Unless you're Apple, in which case you can patent the wheel. (And then claim you invented it).

    1. dssf
      Joke

      Re: Unless

      Not to be a pedant, but, "you" as in Apple or "you" as in we, the readers? I don't think Apple would be allowed to patent a wheel, let alone a mouse wheel, given how virulently opposed to the mouse wheel the company has demonstrated itsellf to be....

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If your entire idea is simple enough to be correctly parsed by a search engine, then it must also be too simple/obvious to patent. The best you could hope for is to make general searches of specific keywords or phrases from your intended patent. which would be useless to anyone else.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New website launching soon called Soogle?

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