Anyone seen the updated Google Patents page, very sexy and a bit of a surprise that the Big G is still investing in the project with the seemingly perpetual beta tag. I have mentioned to some of you that my organization finds Google Patents valuable as a ready source for patent drawings and claims. The site is very reliable and I can copy and paste from it into our client's wiki and all of the impedded links for the drawings, claims and full-text remain active. Why store collections of patents as PDFs when you can draw upon the Google servers at will?
Well, I found myself on the site during a routine patent review meeting this morning and imagine my surprise when the entire site was completely redone. There are now large prominant buttons allowing for a PDF download and the ability to read the patent. They have also changed the layout so that the claims and citations are beneath one another instead of side by side. This makes the page a little less crowded and personally I enjoyed the enhanced readability of the content.
But what might have been my favorite new feature is how they have enhanced the search within this patent box. Instead of hiding this box in the upper left hand corner of the page it is now right below the page imagine. Previously when you typed something in this box the system took you to the first occurrance and showed a list of the other occurances along the right side of the window. Now the user is provided with a list of the number of times the term occures with the page number and the term in context (a lot like KWIC - key word in context). When you click on one of the results you are again taken to the page image with the term highlighted but they have added a navagation bar along the right side of the window that shows you where else the term appears within the length of the document. This is a feature that is common to other patent viewers on the market but it is the first time I have seen it from Google.
I have not had an opportunity to look into previous issues with patent coverage or general searching so I can't report on those items. I can say that I like the formatting and layout changes they have made and they make a convenient site one that is even more useful and easy to use.
I encourage interested individuals to have a look and post your impressions in the comments.