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Google Patents: A Picture of the Past and Present

Have you ever been curious, in this country of invention, what creative ideas are sprouting? Google has made it simple for you to explore this with Google Patents.

The Wonderful World of Google Patents

Most people haven’t heard of Google Patents, but it is a pretty cool service. It permits you to explore U.S. patents both past and present. As you might guess, not all patents are created equal. They range from incredibly serious, like medical patents, to absurdly goofy, like an electronic pickle jar game. Finding interesting patents is as easy as searching for something in Google Patents. It’s amazing how many fascinating creations are out there!

Organizing the World’s Information

In describing Google Patents, Google writes that the service is part of the company’s larger mission to organize the world’s data. All of the info on Google Patents comes from the records of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, better known by the acronym USPTO. Google can provide this information because all patents issued in the United States are part of the public domain. What’s most amazing about Google Patents is its breadth. The service only displays U.S. patents – not international ones – issued from the 1790s to the present. Consequently searchers can wade through 8 million patents and 3 million patent applications through the Google-provided service.

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 granted 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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