For the past 15 years, the US patent classification system has fallen on hard times as more searchers move toward non-structured “Google style” searching. Now, however, a global cooperative led by the EPO and USPTO are moving forward with a the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) that offers some promise both for better classification and for more cross-border standardization.
In turn, Google has released a new version of its patent search capabilities — by indexing both its patent documents and its non-patent “Google Scholar” documents according to CPC standards.
For Google, this is not just about their core business of improving search. Indeed, Google is a major player in the U.S. patent system, both as a patent owner and as a defendant in patent infringement lawsuits. In a blog post, Google’s Allen Lo (Deputy GC for patents) and Ian Wetherbee (Google Patents developer) rightly argue that better search leads to better patents. It will be interesting to see whether the improved Google Search makes an impact.