Google Patents, and Aspator sailing the seas of IP.
So yes, I am the level of geek that requires seeking out and locating particular patents, and finding if I’ve infringed on them. (so far no.)
There are a number of tools out there, but sadly many of them don’t really do what you need. Straightforward patent searching is all anyone can really ask for. The U.S. Patent office hasn’t exactly had the greatest site for the past few years (since it has been up).
Simply put, these guys are overworked and haven’t really been able to “web 2.0″ up. For the past few months I’ve been using Aspator. A great little plugin for Firefox that makes searching, on the USPTO site no less (United States Patent Office for the layperson). It’s pretty cool, you type in a search query it generates an answer list just like normal. However, with Aspator there are small links at the end of the results and they allow you to see the inventor, view the full patent in .pdf acrobat form, and more.
The latest wrinkle in patent searching you may have recently come across is the Google Patent Search that you could clearly see that brought you too this article.
The new Google Patent Search does have some nice wrinkles to it that I have already enjoyed to the fullest!
I think the best new advantage provided is the very clear links to prior art (that’s the older patents that new patents reference, it’s like a little shout out to your engineering homeys).
The Google search site is well laid out and simple, but it doesn’t seem to allow the sort of concurrent searching that Aspator allows. It’s a little unfortunate in that respect, however the power, clarity, and simplicity provided by Google seems to me to indicate it to be a real winner in the patent search arena.
I’d be interested to hear what any of you real I.P. types think of it.
I just use it for simple patents like packaging, agricultural implements, kitchen gadgets, computer peripherals, and hairdryers.