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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 the United States Patent & Trademark Office and the European Patent Office, among other sources, Google said.

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

"To explain why an invention is new, inventors will usually cite prior art such as earlier patent applications or journal articles," Jon Orwant, engineering manager at Google, said in a company blog. "Determining the novelty of a patent can be difficult, requiring a laborious search through many sources, and so we’ve built a Prior Art Finder to make this process easier. With a single click, it searches multiple sources for related content that existed at the time the patent was filed."

"The Prior Art Finder identifies key phrases from the text of the patent, combines them into a search query, and displays relevant results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, and the rest of the web," he added.

Orwant said he hoped the feature would supplement existing search methods patent applicants use and that the tool would be refined and extended once Google "develop a better understanding of how to analyse patent claims and how to integrate the results into the workflow of patent searchers."

Earlier this year Google announced that it had partnered with the EPO to introduce free new language translation technology on the EPO's website. At the time the EPO said that it had provided Google with "several hundred thousand high quality translations of patents" in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Swedish which Google had used to "train" its existing automated translation software.

Copyright © 2012, Out-Law.com

Out-Law.com is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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