As the scourge of patent trolls continues to take its toll on technology innovators, some, like Rackspace and now FindTheBest CEO Kevin O’Connor, are fighting back with lawsuits of their own. Google is making a move to expand the capabilities of its patents search engine, google.com/patents — often one of the first stops for entrepreneurs in search of information on existing patents. The company says today that it has broadened its footprint to now include four new patent agencies: China, Germany, Canada and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Though Google has been quickly shutting down underperforming services across its network in recent years, Patent Search has seen steady improvement. Last year, for example, Google launched the Prior Art Finder and added support for European Patent Office (EPO) patents.
With today’s expansion, the company is taking advantage of Google Translate to aid with support for multiple languages, which will at least give searchers a rough idea as to what a patent’s text may say, though ideally, they’ll need a native speaker to fully understand the details of patents written in other languages. Google says it will provide both the patent’s original language and English, via Google Translate. When there are multiple submission languages, Google will also allow searchers to move between them via tabs at the top of the page.
The addition of the new patent offices will mean millions more inventions are now documented within Google Patent Search, an engine whose initial focus was on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), before moving to support the EPO, WIPO, and now these other countries.
Google itself has a history of being against patent trolling behavior, in general, having earlier this year come out against patent trolls with the launch of its Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge, a commitment to not sue any “user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked.” And it continues to add patents under the OPN as needed, while also encouraging others in the industry to take similar measures. For this reason and others, it seems that Google’s Patent Search will continue to receive attention, if not for its mainstream reach or revenue generating capabilities, but for its ability to aid Google’s efforts in modeling correct industry behavior around patents and innovation.