Google Patents: A Picture of the Past and Present

June 6th, 2012

Interested in a smartphone that flashes LED lights at you when you have an incoming call? How about a mug that looks like a crayon? Good news. Inventors have filed patents on both of these items. You can even view them online by visiting Google Patents.

The Wonderful World of Google Patents

Haven’t heard of Google Patents? You’re not alone. This offering by the Internet search giant Google is an interesting one. It lets you peer into the future – or at least a possible future – by viewing the many patents issued by the United States. As you might expect, the patents range from the serious – new methods of delivering vaccinations – to the absurd – an electronic pickle jar game. Simply by plugging random words in the Google Patents search engine, you can sift through these useful and decidedly useless futuristic marvels.

Organizing the World’s Information

According to Google, Google Patents is one more part of the company’s mission to organize the world’s information. Google Patents gets its info from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When a patent is issued in the U.S. it becomes part of the public domain so Google can publish this information. One of the awesome things about Google Patents is the number of Patents it contains. The service displays patents issued within the United States from 1790 to the present. That is a lot of data that users can explore.

A Patent History Lesson

Because of the amount of time the site covers you can get a view of advancements in technology over a long time period. You can see the patent given to Alexander Graham Bell in 1880 for an automatic short-circuiter for telephones or the patent issued to Thomas Edison in 1889 for the incandescent electric lamp. If you want to get a peek at where we came from and where we are going, take some time exploring Google Patents.


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