The answer to
all most of my prayers has arrived in the form of Google’s Patent Search. (http://www.google.com/patents) Probably the most important function of the Google patent search (in which all of the USPTO’s images have been converted to be easily readable via your web browser) is that it makes the images fully readable immediately (i.e. you don’t need to download a TIFF viewer to view them – see my previous post on this). However, there is one big drawback – the images do not appear to be easily printable on a Mac. On a PC, you can right-click on individual images/pages and print them that way, but I have yet to be able to do it on the Macs in our Library.
Anyway, using Google’s Advanced Patent search, you can search by Patent number, Title, Inventor, Assignee, Current U.S. Classification, International Classification, Issue date, and Filing date. The images are large and crisp and clear. Once you are in a patent record, you can search within that patent, as well as view references (and the links to the relevant reference patents).
Thanks to Michael McDonnell, our Government Documents librarian, who passed on to us an email announcing this new product from Amy West, the Interim Head of the Government Publications Library at the University of Minnesota.