For anyone who follows patents, from engineers to those other kinds of people now dubbed "patent trolls," Google's Patent Search engine is often an invaluable tool.
With more than seven million U.S. patents logged in its database, the service makes searching for these documents virtually instantaneous and painless.
Now Google is beefing up that repository with patents stemming from four more major sources -- notably from a few places where patents are frequently in the spotlight in courtrooms in those countries.
Available in both the native languages as well as English via Google Translate, Google Patent Search now serves up documentation about patents in China, Germany, Canada, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Google engineering manager Jon Orwant hinted at some of the goals in a blog post on Wednesday:
Many of these documents may provide prior art for future patent applications, and we hope their increased discoverability will improve the quality of patents in the U.S. and worldwide.
The Internet giant has made no secret of its disdain for patent trolling and lawsuits -- notably in regards to open source technology.
Earlier this year, Google published what it dubbed as its "Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge , promising not to sue first over open source software patents.
At the time, Google led off with with 10 patents related to MapReduce (the proprietary forerunner to the open source Hadoop framework). The Mountain View, Calif.-based corporationto cover 79 patents related to data center management.
Screenshot via the Google Public Policy blog