Google's patent search tool has always had fast page downloads, but has not always appeared to have a complete database. For example, more than few times Google patent searches produced less hits than the PTO patent database for the same search query. Saying it's only a beta only goes so far if the US patent database is incomplete.
However, Google announced improvements to Google Patents worth noting including:
- Plans to allow searching the entire body of US patents and work with the PTO to add to its repository of USPTO bulk data. Hopefully this will be fixed. Incompleteness is the reason it cannot be a stand alone searching tool today.
- A Prior Art Finder that allows a single click on a "Find prior art" button to search on Google Patents, Google Scholar, and Google Books. Note the button appears at the top of the display when you open a patent on the list of search results. This is another way to find relevant documents beyond the search query initially invoked.
- Searching on the European Patent Office database. This makes a more convenient to search the EPO database in conjunction with a Google patent search.
- Google Translate improvements to eliminate the language barrier of EPO documents written in parallel languages, e.g., English, French, and German.
It's already a great patent search tool for companies, patent attorneys and inventors seeking to know the prior art, but let's hope Google keeps thinking of additional improvements. It can only help.