Google Patents

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Sometimes it helps to stand back and look at the bigger picture. Many of my posts are about Google patents, but I haven’t published a list of those patents.

I’ve located all of the granted Google patents that I could find that were either listed in the assignment database at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or noted in their granted patents database as assigned to Google. I haven’t included Google’s pending patent applications.

I’ll be updating this post as new Google patents are granted. – last updated February 5, 2011 – see: Google Patents, Updated

I also included granted patents for Exaflop, which seems, on the patent assignment documents, to share an address with Google at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, California 94043. Those are listed at the bottom of this post and aren’t included in the following statistics.

There are 187 granted patents listed for Google at the USPTO databases, and another 10 for Exaflop. It’s probably not a surprise that the biggest category involves search indexing. I’ve grouped the Google assigned patents into categories as follows:

  • Advertising Patents (15)
  • Design Patents (11)
  • Duplicate Content Patents (4)
  • Email and Messaging Patents (7)
  • Event Modeling Patents (3)
  • Game Patents (2)
  • Hardware Patents (12)
  • Image and Video Patents (17)
  • Large File Space Indexing Patents (9)
  • Medical Patents (1)
  • Modeling and Mapping Patents (11)
  • Multiple Database Indexing (3)
  • Phrase-Based Indexing Patents (3)
  • Radio Patents (7)
  • Search Indexing Patents (63)
  • Security Patents (3)
  • Social Networking (1)
  • Software Patents (4)
  • Vehicles (1)
  • Voice Search Patents (2)
  • Voting Patents (1)
  • Wireless and Mobile Patents (7)
  • Total (187)

I was also interested in seeing the originally assigned companies for the Google patents and took that information from the USTPO assignment database when available. The granted Exaflop patents were all originally assigned to Digital Equipment Corporation.

  • @Last Software, Inc. (1)
  • Bidamic Inc. (1)
  • Computer Concepts Corporation (2)
  • Decisive Technology Corporation (1)
  • Disney Enterprises, Inc. (1)
  • DMarc Broadcasting, Inc. (6)
  • Doubleclick, Inc. (4)
  • Eyematic Interfaces, Inc. (13)
  • Google Technology, Inc. (2)
  • Google, Inc. (127)
  • Gossett and Gunter, Inc. (3)
  • Goupfire, Inc. (2)
  • Green Border Technologies (2)
  • Infoseek Corporation (9)
  • Intel Corporation (1)
  • Keyhole, Inc. (1)
  • Kranson Industries, Inc. (1)
  • Nevengineering, Inc. (1)
  • News Village L.L.C. (1)
  • Oingo, Inc. (2)
  • Ortiz & Lopez, PLLC (1)
  • Starwave Corporation (3)
  • The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (1)
  • Wildtangent (1)

Advertising Patents

With the inclusion of Doubleclick patents, Google’s advertising patents provide a good range of topics, including presenting ads based upon the context of searches and the content of pages that advertising appears upon as well as ways to measure the delivery, targeting and of those ads on web pages and in emails.

Design Patents

Design patents don’t cover processes as much as they do the look and feel of some aspect of an application or product.

Duplicate Content Patents

Search engines strive to present unique content to searchers in the results that they present to them, and a list of search results that all show the same content or very similar would likely frustrate searchers. The following patents provide different ways of identifying content that may be very similar on different pages.

Email and Messaging Patents

Event Modeling Patents

These patents involve the use and manipulation of databases and include the creation of events that can trigger actions without changing the underlying structure of those databases.

Game Patents

This patent covers an interactive online gaming system that could be used with advertising. Some Google patent applications describe advertising in games.

Difficult to choose whether to include the following patent under games or Radio, since it originally comes from DMarc, but only having one patent in the Games category called out for adding it here:

Hardware Patents

Some surprises in this section, though it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Google would need to create some of its hardware with the challenges that they face in crawling and indexing so many pages on the Web. It is odd to see something like an “Adjustable monitor cart,” included in the list, though.

Image and video Patents

Most of the patents below originally come from Eyematic Interfaces, Inc., which is the original name of Nevengineering, Inc., which Google acquired in August of 2006. Some of the technology from that acquisition has been used in Google’s picture sharing software, Picassa. Some of it may end up being used in Google’s image search.

Large File Space Indexing Patents

I separated some of Google’s search-related patents from the rest because they focus more on handling large amounts of data rather than how Google might rank pages or handle other aspects of running a search engine. If you want a look at some of the technical aspects of how a very large search engine works, these provide some insights.

Medical Patents

This patent seems out of place in Google’s portfolio. It may have come over to Google with the acquisition of Where 2 Technologies since the assigners listed in the assignment database are two of the people who came over to Google when they acquired that company.

Modeling and Mapping Patents

Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Sketchup are powered by some interesting technology, some of which came to them with through acquisitions. There are a good number of patent applications that may join this group shortly, including human-friendly driving directions, and mobile maps with data overlays that make it easier to learn a great deal about areas that you might be traveling through.

Multiple Database Indexing

Some early patents that Google acquired from Infoseek describe ways of showing information in one set of results from multiple databases, a little like Google’s blended and Universal Search results.

Phrase-Based Indexing Patents

Infoseek also provided Google with some approaches to indexing pages based upon phrases that appear upon those pages. Google has done some additional work in this area, and the Google patent listed below covers their work in that area in a detailed manner.

Radio Patents

In earlier days, DMarc Broadcasting, Inc. was known as Computer Concepts Corporation. The intellectual property that Google inherited when they purchased DMarc covers a pretty comprehensive system of advertising and measuring the broadcast of those ads.

Search Indexing Patents

I’ve written about a number of these patents in the past. If you want some insights into the thoughts and assumptions behind how Google’s search engine may work, these provide some interesting hints.

Security Patents

It’s not a surprise that a search engine would invest in some technology that would help with security online, and protect people from malware. The new browser, Google Chrome, uses a sandboxing security feature that sounds like technology developed Green Border Technologies.

Social Networking

There are a few other patent filings from Google that haven’t been granted but maybe. This one covers some ways that people might request recommendations or advice or assistance (including search assistance) on a social network.

Software Patents

The following patent is an add on for browsers that might give them additional functionality. Some of that functionality appears to have been built into Google Chrome.

Some additional patents that seem most appropriate to list in the software category:

Vehicle Patents

Voice Search Patents

With the rapid growth of mobile phone usage, it makes sense for a search engine to work on voice interfaces for search.

Voting Patents

Some of the ideas from this patent may have been used in the voting process that is built into the recently released Google Moderator, which allows individuals within a group to ask questions and allows the other group members to vote upon which questions they believe to be the most important.

Wireless and Mobile Patents

Google has patented many processes that focus on wireless communications. It will be interesting to see how they will use some of it, including the possibility of freeing up whitespace for broadband access.

Exaflop Patents

Most of the granted Exaflop patents involve email, though the last one listed surprisingly veers off that topic to focus upon data mining. There are also seven published patent applications from Exaflop pending with the 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway address which mostly cover aspects of running data centers.

There’s another granted patent database listing showing Exaflop as the assignee, (Integrated content guide for interactive selection of content and services on personal computer systems with multiple sources and multiple media presentations , which was granted on August 28, 2008, but doesn’t show Exaflop of the Amphitheatre Parkway address in the assignment database.

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45 thoughts on “Google Patents”

  1. Hi Matthias,

    The patents do provide some fairly unique insights into how the search engines work. I do have a copy of the book you mention, and It’s getting closer to the stack of books in my “to read” pile. I keep on getting distracted by new patent filings from the search engines.

    Hi Brian,

    I’m not sure that a patent is usually a waste of money, especially if you look at it as a way to protect intellectual property.

    Having a patent pending, especially if the methods described within it are new and nonobvious and useful enough for it to become a granted patent is one more thing that an angel investor or a venture capitalist might like when considering whether to fund a startup. If you have an idea worth other people considering, you should consider going for it.

  2. wow Google got an amazing response from this didn’t they? I have better things to do then to read all the patents but none the less it’s interesting to see Google has so much money to waste! They will be funding these idea’s correct?

    I wonder if I should submit my idea and see if I can get funding for blogengage that would be pretty sweet.

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  4. Wow! Now that is a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the Google Patents as well as their sources.

    While I haven’t gone into read each of the patents, I believe your description gives me a pretty good idea of what they are… even the adjustable monitor stand 😀

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together, must have taken ages!

  5. Hi Bill,

    Just wanted to say hi it has been a while since we have hooked up. Anyways, great post, I also am amazed at how many patents are posted. Hard to keep up with them not sure how you do it.

    Hope all is going well!

  6. Wow! thats alot of patents, I don’t even have one patent, ha ha. They certainly know what they are doing, and the growth will certainly be fast, lets just hope that they can keep up with their growth. (Im sure they will).

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  8. HI Mike,

    The number of patents pending that Google might have at any one time has probably been increasing over the past few years, but presently it’s probably at least as much as they have in granted patents. Keep in mind that a patent filing could take a number of years before it is granted.

    Hi People Finder,

    I’m guessing it will be something that appears somewhat innoculous on its face, like a way to descramble wireless communications (a pending patent application).

    Hi MGA, SEO Midget, SEO Positive, and Roger Hamilton,

    You’re welcome.

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  10. Bill,

    On the topic of Google patents, I think I discovered something weird. Google’s first search patent (6,526,440 — the one people sometimes call the Hilltop or LocalSearch patent) seems to have been anticipated by a company called Egocentricity. Have a look at

    Claim 48 looks an awful lot like Google’s main claim and the file date is six months earlier. Has this been discussed anywhere? What’s up with that?


  11. Hi Stanley,

    Thank you. That is an interesting document. I’m not sure if there has been any discussion of it, but it’s worth digging into deeper. Running through it very quickly, it appears to be a full scale ranking algorithm instead of a reranking approach like the one presented in the Google Patent, where the top “n” number of results are reranked based upon how often they “are referenced by other documents in the generated set of documents.” I’ll have to spend some more time with the Egocentricity patent to see what else is in it.

    I’ve also wondered why Google filed a later version of the local interconnectivity patent with expanded claims on January 27, 2003 – Ranking search results by reranking the results based on local inter-connectivity.

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  13. I know it’s months after the post but I just want to thank you for all of your research and sharing it with everyone! That’s a lot of work!

  14. Thank you for sharing this. I didn’t know how many patents are granted to google has until reading your posts. Do they have patent filed for ranking the most influential people on social networking? I’m just curious.

  15. Hi Jonathan,

    Google does have a large amount of additional patent filings that haven’t been granted yet. There may be some on social networking, but I’m not sure that they focus upon how “influential” people might be on social networks.

  16. Hi William,

    First of all I would like to thank you for writing this article about the google patents. Like the other, this is the first time I heard of this. This clearly shows how the “Big G” is dominating the web right now and I think this is a good thing since all of us are benefiting from this and google is just protecting its interest by filing many patents.

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  18. Hi Bill,

    Long before the start of mobile app’s and app stores, we listed a patent re. fitness and sport scoring via mobile devices. The patent was registered in the South African Patent office, and is pending in the US Patent office.

    If our patent is approved / registered, I believe a whole lot of iPhone apps will be infringing on what we registered. Do you know anyone that can guide me how to approach google to understand if they might be interested in our patent rights?

  19. Hi Gerard,

    I’m not sure what Google’s philosophy is concerning the acquisition of patent rights, nor who could guide you along those lines. I’ve seen Google seem to primarily focus upon acquiring companies for businesses or technology that they have already developed, or to hire people who developed that technology, though it does seem like they have acquired some patent rights involving search specific applications, such as those from Infoseek.

  20. I wonder how much they spend every year on patents, including the legal team that make these patents water tight. Can anyone suggest a book to read on how to get a patent without spending too much money?

  21. Interesting article and blog you have here. I guess most webmasters would like to know what are the patents that Google hold in order to understand how Google works. Thanks for this article.

  22. Hi Mike,

    Not sure of any books that might be helpful, but I really haven’t spent much time looking for one. I might suggest that going to a good patent attorney might not be a bad idea because they could be helpful in making sure that you don’t take any expensive missteps.

  23. Hi Ed,

    Thank you. I’m not sure that looking at Google’s patents provide a 100% clear indication of how Google works and where they are going, but I think they help.

  24. Bill,

    If Google holds all of these patents I would think that they would constantly be suing other individuals for doing very similar things.Especially those designed for search engine functions, which can only be so original. I can’t recall any news story about them making such lawsuits but I would have to assume it happens frequently.

  25. Hi Scott,

    One of the reasons to file and publish a patent is to give others the chance to see what is out there that is patented.

    While Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have all been publishing search related patents for a few years now, and many of those seem to cover similar concepts and processes, they usually come to those ideas from perspectives and approaches that are different enough from each other to avoid litigation. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen, and there have been a few lawsuits.

    One of the most well known of those involved Google and Overture (which was purchased by Yahoo):

    Overture sues Google over search patent

  26. Hi Vicente,

    Not so sure about that. US Patent law doesn’t seem to have followed the “first to patent” approach, though it’s possible it’s a path that may be followed in the future.

  27. Googles stronghold as a (the) search engine is undeniable. Infact I suppose there are people out there who actually think Google IS the internet! But their stranglehold is becoming too invasive and I for one do not like to see one company Monopolise such a good open source of information as the Internet.

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