Google and Prior Art Searching – International Intellectual Property Law – Case Study #11

Originally posted 2015-09-24 11:21:32

Google’s has expanded its search coverage for patents by adding millions of documents from the European Patent office to Google Patents. In addition, they have added a “Prior Art Finder” feature that automatically scans the web, Google Patents, Google Scholar, and Google Books for key phrases from a patent’s text. It essentially tries to find elements associated with the patent and then restricts the search results to items published prior to the priority date on the items patent documentation. This feature may also function as a possible ‘infringement finder” for content holders looking to protect their interests.

If you search the Prior Art Finder, you will find many results that may indicate instances where infringement happened. Patent trolls, or copyright holders who aggressively and proactively file infringement suits, could use this function to pursue more victims.

Although the Prior Art Finder is a very useful advancement for patent analysis, it clearly puts power in the hands of inventors and patent owners. As in any case, technology is inherently neutral, and although the Prior Art Finder may be used for either good or bad, time will tell whether or not this is a tool for patent analysis, or for patent trolls to persecute others.

A copyright is a right to prevent others from using your originally authored work. To protect their creative ingenuity, as well as to ensure that they are the only ones who can make use of and profit from their material, authors of artistic or intellectual works have their material copyrighted. Those who have copyrighted material have many exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce the work, distribute copies to the public for sale, and perform the work. Since anything you create can be copyrighted, copyrights can protect endless types of creative work. Some examples are recorded music, books, software codes, video games, paintings, plays, or sculptures.



Lardinois, Frederic.  (August 14, 2012).  Google Improves Patent Search With Prior Art Finder, Adds
              Millions Of European Patents.  Retrieved on August 22, 2012 from 
Masnick, Mike.  (August 16, 2012).  Alternative View: Will Google’s Prior Art Finder Become An
              ‘Infringement Finder’ For Trolls?  Retrieved on August 22, 2012 from