Google has enhanced its search engine with a European Patent Office search and a "Prior Art" patent search to take the work out of finding patent data

The new European Patents Office search feature announced on the Google Research blog allows users to search through the millions of patents in the European Patent Office for any keywords and phrases used in current patents, and adds a sophisticated Prior Art search to make the laborious process of searching through many sources for related content.

Google has had a patent search facility for US businesses that searches US patents since 2006, but this is first time that users have been able to search the European Patent Office.

The Google Prior Art Finder lets you search Euopean Patents easily
The Google Prior Art Finder lets you search Euopean Patents easily

The Prior Art Finder identifies key phrases from the text of the patent, combines them into a search query, and displays relevant results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, and the rest of the web.

Once you get your patent results, the search can be refined further to look for patents restricted by filing or issue date, by registered or by patents to be registered and on patent type (utility, design, plant, additional improvement, defensive publication and statutory invention registration).