A Patently Good Idea

Ever wonder who was granted the first U.S. patent? Or, perhaps, invented the bong? Google Patents, the seach engine firm’s latest addition, has the answer, along with millions of others — more than 7 million, the company claims, which would mean pretty much every drawing and diagram issued a mark since 1790.

The company launched the service to modest applause on Dec. 13. I say modest, because it’s hard to know exactly what problem it solves. Most of the search terms (see below) mimic those of the USPTO’s, although Google’s effort does appear somewhat more intuitive than the latter’s.

Find results
with all of the words
with the exact phrase
with at least one of the words
without the words
Return patents issued anytime
Return patents issued between

Return patents filed anytime Return patents filed between

©2007 Google
It does appear Google is attempting to draw that much more traffic to its site, and that’s all fine and good. But it’s too early to rely on Google Patents as an authoritative resource, I think, based on some of the early critiques. You may hate patent attorneys, but they still serve a much-needed role.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (pcea.net). He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow