Google Patents, Updated

If you took a look at Google’s patent portfolio recently, you might ask yourself, “What kind of company is this?” Is it a search engine or a smart phone company, a memory module manufacturer or a server maker? Does this company really own the rights to a weight loss patent titled, “Method Of Assaying Satiety Enhancing Tastants,” or is that accidentally listed by error from the patent office?

Google acquired a number of patents over the past few years, either by purchase or by license. Those include a good number of phone related patents from Verizon, patents involving video and streaming data from IBM, as well as hardware-related patents from patent holding companies. A few of the IBM patents are the kind you might license if you want to develop self-driving cars. There’s been a lot of discussion about Google’s many acquisitions of the past year, with 40 mentioned in their September 30, 2010 10-Q filing with the SEC, and a few more since then. But, Google’s acquisition of 77 granted patents from Verizon, and another 51 granted patents from IBM happened with absolutely no media attention as far as I can tell.

I’ve listed Google’s granted patents below, by category, and then by the name of the company that made the assignment of the patents to Google.

I also listed patents granted to Exaflop, which is likely owned by Google, at the bottom of this post, but I haven’t included them in the statistics below.

There are 809 granted patents listed at the USTPO under Google’s name, and there are roughly another 1,000 or so published pending patent applications for the Search Engine/Phone Company/Memory Module Maker. There are likely a number of unpublished patent applications that have been filed as well, but haven’t been published yet.

Back in October of 2008, I published a post listing all of Google’s granted patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) assigned to the search giant. I updated the post a few times to include newer patents, and the last update was in March of 2009. At that time, there were only 187 granted patents listed as being assigned to Google. That’s a good amount of growth in a little less than a couple of years.

I’ve grouped Google’s granted patents into the following categories:

  • Advertising Patents (61)
  • Analytics (7)
  • Annotations Patents (1)
  • Audio Patents (2)
  • Blog Search Patents (1)
  • Client/Server Patents (15)
  • Database Management Patents (3)
  • Design Patents (21)
  • Distributed Data Patents (3)
  • Document Presentation Patents (1)
  • Duplicate Content Patents (14)
  • Ecommerce Patents (4)
  • Email and Messaging Patents (38)
  • Event Modeling Patents (3)
  • Google Book Patent (13)
  • Google Desktop Search Patents (13)
  • Google Finance Patents (1)
  • Google News Patents (2)
  • Google TV Patents (3)
  • Handwriting Analysis Patents (2)
  • Hardware Patents (57)
  • Image and Video Patents (80)
  • Intellectual Property Patents (2)
  • Language Conversion Patents (1)
  • Large File Space Indexing Patents (34)
  • Medical Patents (1)
  • Modeling and Mapping Patents (37)
  • Multi-Language Patents (7)
  • Network Patents (15)
  • Organizational Communciations Patents (2)
  • Personal Data Patents (4)
  • Personalized Homepage Patent (3)
  • Personalized Search Patents (11)
  • Phrase-Based Indexing Patents (13)
  • Radio Patents (11)
  • Reviews and Recommendations Patents (5)
  • RSS Patents (2)
  • Search Display Patents (30)
  • Search Indexing Patents (118)
  • Security Patents (5)
  • Segmentation Patents (3)
  • Shopping Search Patents (3)
  • Social Networking Patents (110)
  • Software Patents (3)
  • Vehicle Patents (11)
  • Virtual Machine Task Management Patents (1)
  • Visual Modeling (1)
  • Voice Search Patents (4)
  • Web Authoring Patents (5)
  • Web Spam Patents (2)
  • Weight Loss Patents (1)
  • Wireless and Mobile/Phone Patents (118)

I was also interested in seeing who assigned the patents to Google, and looked that up in the USTPO assignment database, and I’ve broken the categories below into sections based upon the companies that assigned the patents to Google (or Exaflop in the last section below).

  • @Last Software, Inc. (1)
  • About, Inc. (1)
  • Access Co., LTD. (6)
  • ADC Telecommunications, Inc. (1)
  • Adscape Media Inc. (1)
  • Applied Semantics, Inc. (3)
  • ASML Holding N.V. (1)
  • Carl Meyer (5)
  • Disney Enterprises, Inc. (2)
  • DMARC Broadcasting Co. (9)
  • Doubleclick, Inc. (8)
  • Falk Esolutions GMBH (1)
  • Feedburner, Inc. (1)
  • Google (505)
  • Gossett and Gunter, Inc. (7)
  • Green Border Technologies, Inc. (4)
  • Groupfire, Incorporated d/b/a/ Outride, Inc. (2)
  • Hitachi (1)
  • IBM (51)
  • Infoseek Corporation (9)
  • Intel Corporation (1)
  • Invenda Corporation (1)
  • Keyhole, Inc. (1)
  • Klipmark Corporation (2)
  • McCarthy Software, Inc. (2)
  • Metaram, Inc. (13)
  • Myriad France SAS (15)
  • Nevengineering, Inc. (18)
  • ON2 Technologies, LLC (7)
  • Ortiz & Lopez, PLLC (1)
  • Peakstream Inc. (1)
  • Performics Inc. (1)
  • Peripheral Vision, LLC (1)
  • Postini Inc. (16)
  • Starwave Corporation (3)
  • The Duck Corporation (On2) (4)
  • The Weather Channel, INC. (1)
  • Tudor Empire, LLC (3)
  • Urchin (4)
  • Verizon (77)
  • Wildtangent, Inc. (1)
  • Zetta Research, LLC (17)

Granted Patents Assigned to Google

Advertising Patents

Unsurprisingly, many of Google’s patents are related to advertising in one form or another. Many of the patents from Google itself focus upon showing ads that are either relevant to where they appear, or in some way to the person viewing the ads.

About, Inc.

Adscape Media Inc.

Applied Semantics, Inc.

Carl Meyer

Doubleclick, Inc.

Falk Esolutions GMBH

Google

IBM

Performics

The Weather Channel, Inc.

Analytics Patents

I’ve included Google’s web page Optimizer patents under this umbrella of Analytics since they provide a way to measure the potential impact of changes to a page.

Google

Urchin

Annotations Patent

Google

Only one patent listed here, but I could have included a few others. Many of the patents listed don’t fall neatly into one category or another, and some of Google’s search indexing patents rely upon “annotations” to help rank pages.

Audio Patents

Many of Google’s patents involve “multimedia” of one type or another, and there are many listed in the “images and video patents” category that might have been included in this category as well.

Google

Blog Search Patents

Back in 2007, I wrote about a pending patent application in a post called Positive and Negative Quality Ranking Factors from Google’s Blog Search (Patent Application). That patent is still pending, but it works nicely with the other Google patent that’s been granted below.

Google

Client/Server Patents

It was difficult to come up with a category for the following patents. They involve things like signing into and using Google Accounts, and some applications involving the Google Toolbar.

Google

Database Management Patents

Google has more than a few granted patents involving databases. There are many more listed in the category “Large File Space Indexing Patents”

Google

McCarthy Software, Inc.

Design Patents

Design patents are filed to protect the look at feel of something, and the most important aspects of them aren’t the textual descriptions, but rather the images that accompany them.

Google

Distributed Data Patents

There are a few patents filed by Google that provide ways for people to share data, listed here.

Google

IBM

Document Presentation Patents

This particular patent didn’t seem to fit well in any of the other categories.

Peripheral Vision, LLC

Duplicate Content Patents

Mostly focusing on duplicate content involving text, there are a few here that involve images, video, and audio as well.

Google

Ecommerce Patents

I somehow missed the “Gift registry” patent below when it was granted.

Google

Email and Messaging Patents

Google has a number of patents involving email and IM. I included chat-based patents in this section as well. It’s possible that some of these might play a role in whatever Google’s comingup with involving building a social network.

Google

IBM

Infoseek Corporation

Postini,Inc.

Event Modeling Patents

In my previous post on Google’s patents, I described these patents as involving “…the use and manipulation of databases, and include the creation of events that can trigger actions without changing the underlying structure of those databases.”

Starwave Corporation

Google Books Patents

A lot, but not all, of Google’s patents that involve Google Books seem to focus upon ways to scan books.

Google

Google Desktop Search Patents

I’m not sure whether Google is still pursuing their “Google Desktop Search,” but we may see aspects of it appearing in the operating systems that Google has been developing.

Google

Google Finance Patents

This patent didn’t really fit comfortably into any of the other categories.

Google

Google News Patents

There may be a few more patents in the Search Indexing Patents section that apply to Google News as well.

Google

Google TV Patents

While these may not be specifically about “Google TV,” they are specifically about TV. A number of other patents may fit into this category, such as IBM patents on Video on Demand (VOD). but I placed those in the Images and Video Patents Category.

Google

IBM

Handwriting Analysis

IBM

Hardware Patents

Google’s range of hardware patents are growing. Many of them seem to focus upon improving Google’s computing power, but some of them are a little mysterious, like the acquisition of the Metaram memory module patents.

ASML Holding N.V.

Carl Meyer

Google

Intel Corporation

Metaram, Inc.

Zetta Research, LLC

Image and Video Patents

This seems to be one of the fastest growing sections of Google’s patent portfolio. The Klipmark patents came to Google through Doubleclick, and the Duck Corporation patents via On2 Technologies.

Google

IBM

Klipmark Corporation

Nevengineering, Inc.

ON2 Technologies, LLC

The Duck Corporation (On2)

Intellectual Property Patents

Google

Language Conversion Patents

Google

Large File Space Indexing Patents

Google

Medical Patents

Google

Modeling and Maps Patents

I’ve included patents involving business listings in Google Maps, as well as driving directions patents in this section. I included Google navigation patents in the category on Vehicles.

Google

IBM

Keyhole, Inc.

Wildtangent, Inc.

Multi-Language Patents

Google

Network Patents

Google

IBM

Ortiz & Lopez, PLLC

Tudor Empire, LLC

Organizational Communications Patents

Google

IBM

Personal Data Patents

Google

IBM

Personalized Homepage Patent

Google

Personalized Search Patents

Google

Phrase-Based Indexing Patents

Google

Infoseek Corporation

Radio Patents

DMARC Broadcasting Co.

Google

Reviews and Recommendations Patents

Google

RSS Patents

Feedburner, Inc.

Google

Search Display Patents

Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Google

Search Indexing Patents

There are a lot of patents listed in this section that could possibly be broken down into smaller categories. I may try to do that in the future.

Applied Semantics, Inc.

Google

Groupfire, Incorporated d/b/a/ Outride, Inc.

Infoseek Corporation

Invenda Corporation

Verizon

Security Patents

Google

Green Border Technologies, Inc.

Segmentation Patents

Google

Shopping Search Patents

Google

Social Networking Patents

Google

Software Patents

Google

Vehicle Patents

Google

IBM

Virtual Machine Task Management Patents

Peakstream Inc.

Visual Modeling

@Last Software, Inc.

Voice Search Patents

Google

Verizon

Web Authoring Patents

Google

Web Spam Patents

Google

Weight Loss Patents

This may or may not be a mistake on the part of the patent office. Based upon the title, it might not seem to be a Google patent, but when you see terms like “Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient,” you wonder.

Google

Wireless and Mobile/Phone Patents

I wasn’t surprised that this seems to be the quickest growing category in my look at Google’s patents. I suspect that it will continue to grow at a pretty quick rate in the future.

Access Co., LTD.

ADC Telecommunications, Inc.

Google

Gossett and Gunter, Inc.

Hitachi

IBM

Myriad France SAS

Verizon

Granted Patents Assigned to Exaflop

Client/Server Patents

Hewlett-Packard Development

Email and Messaging Patents

Hewlett-Packard Development

Hardware Patents

Exaflop

Search Indexing Patents

Hewlett-Packard Development

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32 thoughts on “Google Patents, Updated”

  1. Quite the comprehensive listing. Just the sheer number of patents in some areas, like the image and video patents, really gives you an insight into not just where Google’s priorities have been, but where their focus may be going forward.

    Oh, and the “Method Of Assaying Satiety Enhancing Tastants” really gave me a good laugh.

  2. That IS quite a spread. Some of these, as you alluded to in your post, seem to be quite a distance away from their core business.

    This one will catch the interest of internet marketers for sure: Document Near-Duplicate Detection (US Patent # 7707157)

    Things of this sort always do.

    By the way…this list is HUGE!

  3. Wow, this must be the single most detailed and reader-friendly list of this kind anywhere. I bet it will be linked as a reference many times. Maybe you should convert it into a page with a fixed address and update it when you have the time and inspiration.

    And looking at the list – talk about loosing focus! If it goes on like this, Google will soon be as famous as IBM for this, with employees holding contests on who pushes the most hilarious patent through the system. I hope they don’t assign a cash bonus for each patent application, or you’re going to have a hard time listing them all!

    Unfortunately, with the current situation about patents, they probably have to do this to have bargaining power against potential lawsuits from other heavy patent holders. The one on weight loss is still a mystery for me.

  4. Hi Paul,

    Thank you. It is interesting to see where Google is going with their acquistions and development of their patent portfolio. I read this morning that Google might be one of the bidders in acquiring Nortel’s patents, which number around 4,000 and include a number of inventions involving 4G networks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made that acquisition.

    Some odd and interesting math in that Sateity patent. :)

  5. Hi Mark,

    Can we say that search is still Google’s core business? I’m not sure these days.

    The duplicate content patents are interesting. The ones involving audio and video, where a the sounds and visuals are translated into histograms that can be compared to other histograms seems pretty smart on its face.

    Yes, the list is huge. That’s partially why I didn’t include the pending patent applications. Going from 187 granted patents a couple of years ago to more than 800 is quite a leap.

  6. Hi Val,

    Thanks. The static page idea for these is something I should probably consider.

    I’m not sure if the list evidences a complete loss of focus. Some of the patents are out there, like the weight loss, the medical device, and the self driving car patents, but I can see how many of the others can relate to each other. If the web is moving more towards something that people will connect to on mobile devices, then Google’s foray into wireless and phone patents isn’t surprising. And many of the hardware patents relate to Google’s insistence on building most of their own hardware infrastructure.

    It does help to have patents as protection from others, and I’m sure that has driven a number of the acquisitions as well.

  7. Thanks for the list Bill! Google sure is a really incredible company and it’s really interesting to get some insight into what they are doing.

  8. Talk about diversification! I’m a bit curious as to why they would invest in radio patents. Not that I feel like traditional radio is dead, but I don’t see Google rivaling Clear Channel any time soon. Am I wrong in the assumption that radio waves, i.e. AM & FM, are fundamentally different from whatever waves/spectrum/frequencies are used to produce Wi-Fi internet? Though if they are the same it would make a lot of sense.

  9. Bill, just tell me pls that you didn’t read every single patent from Google !?

  10. Google is starting to creep me out.
    They steal your heart first with a clean search engine and then they silently take over the world a few years later. And you don’t even mind because you like the bright coloured logo so much…

  11. Google sure acquired a lot of wireless or mobile phone patents. This just shows that they’re up to something in this kind of arena. Well, maybe it has to do something with online users going mobile when surfing the internet especially when they’re on the go.

  12. Lol, I have to ask you the same thing as Nedim: please don’t tell me you’ve read through every single one of their patents :)

    And I have to agree with Harry: Google is surely but slowly taking over the world!

    /Kim.

  13. Great list Bill.

    Google appears to be pretty stealthy with a lot of their applications as well – I keep running across search engine patent filings from people who live in Mountain View, San Jose, etc. where the Google company name is not on the application, but the filing is done by one of several law firms Google uses.

    Often when I dig into the names of the people, they have the same names as Google employees – maybe they are delaying the “assignment” of the application by employees to Google to keep them under the radar, or perhaps it’s just poor process on their part. There’s quite a few of these applications out there, that would make an interesting list as well some day.

  14. Hi Gary,

    I agree. I was surprised by some of the patents that they had acquired elsewhere, and the scope of inventions that they covered.

  15. Hi FinallyFast

    There is a lot of diversity. Most, but not all, of the radio patents involve coming up with ways to advertise on radio, and most of them come from Google’s acqusition of DMARC Broadcasting. The founders of DMARC have both left Google, and a few of the patents that Google owned involving radio have been sold.

  16. Hi Nedim,

    I haven’t read all of Google’s patents, especially many of the ones that were acquired from Verizon and IBM. But, I’ve been reading the search related ones, and search related patents from Yahoo and Microsoft as well as from other companies. Lots of patents.

  17. Hi Harry,

    They are a different company than they were just a few years ago. I’m still sometimes mesmerized by the bright shiny logo.

  18. Hi Kim,

    I can only handle about 20 or so a week, so not all of them. But, a lot of them. And throw in the ones from other search engines, and companies like IBM and Xerox and PARC (The Palo Alto Research Center), it keeps me busy.

  19. Hi Ted,

    Thank you.

    I run across a few that haven’t been assigned to Google yet, too. They don’t necessarily have to be assigned to Google while they are pending, and I run across some granted patents where I’ve done searches on the names of the inventors in the past, and hadn’t seen those patents before. Saw a couple of those from Google this week.

    The list of published pending applications is even bigger than this one, and it took more than a couple of days to put this list together.

  20. Pingback: SEO Tip #4: To Understand Google’s Plans, Look at Their Patents | Keyword Strategy
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  22. As you mentioned, most patents are related to advertising in some way (not surprising when 93% of their profit comes from there). What about the Motorola deal? What I’ve heard Google got over 17000 patents from there… Will this make Google move more into the mobile market or what should they use these patents for? Anyway, not for advertising..

  23. Hi William,

    No doubt, there are a good number of patents related to advertising of some type amongst Google’s patent portfolio, but many of their patents are focused upon different aspects of search, web crawling, indexing web pages, and sorting and reranking search results.

    I haven’t gone through the 17,000 or so Motorola patents – it such a large number and my concern is more search than mobile. I suspect that there probably are some Motorola patents that involve mobile adverting though – it definitely would be surprising if there weren’t.

  24. Hi Bill, comprehensive list of patents, cyrus says u r the man to follow as u read most of them and he was right.

    Good list and article.

  25. Hi Aman,

    Thank you.

    I’m not sure that I’m going to be able to do another list like this in the future for Google’s patents. They’ve acquired too many more since the time that I wrote this, and I believe the are closer to 3,000 now than 1,000.

  26. Cool – three of them that have my name as inventor were among those assigned to Google. Thanks Bill!

  27. Hi Bill,

    This list is crazy! I have a few questions for you (maybe somewhat elementary). I have come up with an idea (please note I’m not a programmer) for a very specific type of search engine that ultimately will make money off of advertising. With Google owning or trying to develop/buy patents how will that affect future entrepreneurs that want to use similar technologies?

    For example, say that someone searches “best apples in Upstate NY” and Google has the patent for promoting specific advertisers to the key words in the search phrase, does that mean that another search engine cannot use that type of technology for connecting advertisers to the searcher?

    Thanks Bill!

  28. Hi Oskar,

    Thanks.

    Google has published a good number of patents about advertising systems that they either are using, or might use, and you don’t necessarily want to run afoul of those, but it is possible to try to develop something different and use that. You might want to either research what they are doing, or have someone do that for you, and talk to a patent attorney. Note that Google doesn’t have a monopoly on showing advertisements based upon keywords in search phrases, and that there are other companies that also have patents in this area as well.

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