June 2, 2010
Google and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Wednesday announced a two-year agreement through which the search company will make bulk patent and trademark data available online for free.
Under Secretary of Commerce and director of the USPTO said in a statement that the deal increases government transparency, in keeping with the President's Open Government Initiative. "An important element of that transparency is making valuable public patent and trademark information more widely available in a bulk form so companies and researchers can download it for analysis and research," he said. "Because the USPTO does not currently have the technical capability to offer the data in bulk form from our own Web site, we have teamed with Google to provide the data in a way that is convenient and at no cost for those who desire it." The arrangement is supposed to serve as an interim solution while the USPTO develops an acquisition strategy by which it will engage a contractor to gather and distribute bulk patent and trademark data. Bulk patent and trademark data was previously available from the government on DVDs for a fee. Companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on such information. Google is providing instant online access to over 10 terabytes of files for nothing, except perhaps the benefit of making itself still more indispensible to the entity that keeps threatening antitrust regulation. "There are many places to search for individual patents -- the US Patent and Trademark Office and Google Patent Search are two examples," said Google engineering manager Jon Orwant in a blog post. "But sometimes that's not enough. If you're trying to identify trends in innovation over time or analyze all the patents relevant to your invention, it helps to have all the patent data on hand." The data may also prove useful to enhance Google's services. For example, the most recent Google patent applications available through Google Patent Search were filed in November, 2009. Presumably, having access to USPTO data will allow Google to present more up-to-date Patent Search results.
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