Google puts the search into patents

Google has unveiled a beta version of a new tool for searching the full text of US patents.

Using much of the technology behind Google Book Search, Google Patent Search lets you scroll through pages and zoom in on text and illustrations.

Users can view images of original patents, although saving and printing are not yet enabled.

In addition to searching for specific text, users can also employ the the Advanced Patent Search page to search by criteria that include patent number, inventor and filing date.

Google software engineer Doug Banks said seven million patents are accessible immediately and more will be added over time.

"It's a natural extension of our mission to make this public domain government information more easily accessible using Google's search technology," he said.

It is not known whether Google has applied for Patent Search patent.