Patent applications provide window into Google Book Search and Gmail

New patent applications were published today at the US Patent and Trademark Office with the names of Google employees on them. Three look at how documents might be presented in an application like Google Book Search, and the other is an addition to patent filings that describe Google’s email system.

Searching scanned documents

The initial two are related to another patent application that was published last week, User interfaces for a document search engine, which involves searching scanned documents placed online.

This first application covers much of the same ground as last week’s published document, but not in as much detail. There are some details in this version that aren’t in the other one, but it feels as though this one is the first draft. They were filed on the same day.

User interface for presentation of a document
Inventor: Joe Sriver
US Patent Application 20060075327
Published April 6, 2006
Filed: September 29, 2004


A system identifies a document and provides an excerpt page corresponding to the document. The excerpt page includes a page of the document and a set of links to sections of the document. One of the links corresponds to a section containing the page and includes text associated with the link, a next page element to permit a next page in the document to be presented, and a previous page element to permit a previous page in the document to be presented. The next page element and the previous page element are visually associated with the text associated with the link.

It’s possible that when someone looks at a document retrieved from one of these searches, that they might want to find additional information on the web about aspects of the document, such as other works created by the author, related articles in the same magazine or journal, and so on.

One version of the process described is fleshed out in this next application, which would create a reference page for the document, extract information from it, and point to related documents on the web. It could also display other information, such as customer reviews and ratings.

Providing information relating to a document
Inventors: Siraj Khaliq and William C. Brougher
US Patent Application 20060074868
Published April 6, 2006
Filed: September 30, 2004


A system identifies a document, performs a search to identify web documents relating to an attribute associated with the document, and provides information associated with the web documents and the document.

Presentation based on structural elements in documents

This patent application is related to the documents above, but it has a wider potential application. Strutural elements in scanned documents that have been translated from images into text through the use of optical character recognition software can benefit from the use of the process described, but it can also be used more widely to cover other web pages, too.

Presentation of search results based on document structure
Inventors: Amitabh K. Singhal, Viresh Ratnakar, Maxim Lifantsev, and Joseph Kieran O’Sullivan
US Patent Application 20060074907
Published April 6, 2006
Filed: September 27, 2004


A system identifies a document relating to a search term, where the document includes a set of structural elements. The system determines a distribution of occurrences of the search term in the document, identifies one of the structural elements based on the distribution of occurrences of the search term in the document, and presents information associated with the identified structural element.

If the other patent applications could be said to determine how books, and magazines, and other scanned documents are displayed on the web, this one determines which parts of those scanned documents are shown. It tries to determine which sections of a page are the most relevant for a search.

GMail addition

There have been a number of patent applications from Google that describe parts of Gmail. In the “related applications” section of this newest addition, the following are listed:

  • Displaying Conversations Relevant to a Search Query in a Conversation-Based E-mail System
  • Displaying Conversations in a Conversation-Based E-mail System
  • Identifying Messages Relevant to a Search Query in a Conversation-Based E-mail System
  • Providing Snippets Relevant to a Search Query in a Conversation-Based E-mail System
  • A Browser-Based Spell Checker
  • Categorizing and Snoozing Conversations in a Conversation-Based E-mail System
  • Processing Messages in a Conversation-Based E-mail System

I linked to a number of those in a thread at Cre8asite Forums, if you would like to find out more about them. I noticed that the names of some of them are slightly different on the actual patent filings. This latest in the series adds some additional functionality.

System and method for electronic contact list-based search and display
Inventors: Kevin David Fox and Darick M. Tong
US Patent Application 20060075044
Published April 6, 2006
Filed: September 30, 2004


A request for communications information associated with an entry in a contact list of a computer user is received at a server computer. The request is generated in response to a request for contact information for the entry. The entry is associated with a party. At least a subset of any communications involving both the party and the computer user are identified. The server computer sends a list of communications information corresponding to the subset. The communications information can include, without limitation, e-mail messages, e-mail conversations, instant messages, phone or other audio messages, and multimedia messages.