The initial step in assessing whether or not an invention qualifies for patent protection is to find the closest prior art in a pre-filing patentability search. For search I like using a variety of sites including www.freepatentsonline.com, www.uspto.gov and Google for patents and non-patent literature (NPL).
Today, Google announced some improvements to its prior art search engine. I think the most important is it has associated the USPTO's new classification codes CPC to NPL. This might be viewed as "obvious to do" but should prove helpful since free online patent databases do not relate NPL to the USPTO classification codes such as CPC, which is now used by both the USPTO and the EPO. Kudos to Google on this as long as they don't retain your search queries.
For further details see Tech Crunch's article Google’s New, Simplified Patent Search Now Integrates Prior Art And Google Scholar and Google's Public Policy Blog Improving Patent Quality One Search at a Time.
Copyright © 2015 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.