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Understanding Google Patents?

How DO I start reading an interpreting the most important Google Patents?



10:41 pm on Jun 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been working in online marketing since 2001, however I've never gone much beyond the superficial meaning (supplemented by reading posts in the WebmasterWorld forum). I need to put together a presentation on Google's Search technology originating from their patents. Aside from tearing into the 50+ Google patents, does anyone have any advice for absorbing and condensing such a large body of information into something I can present to a non-tech audience?

What patents should be the focus (maybe 5-10 of the most important)? Thanks in advance for any feedback!


3:56 pm on Jun 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'm not sure why you'd bother; patent probing is a pure geek activity, with no proven relationship to the real world.

Just because Google can, doesn't mean they do. And even if they do, a patent does not tell you anything about the implementation.

Try building a space shuttle on the strength of patent info, and you'll never have to worry about re-entry. Because you'll never leave the ground :)


4:17 pm on Jun 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A lot of google tech is "not invented here".

Yahoo! holds patents on PPC, no real patents on most of their infrastructure as it runs on open source software. Their brilliance isn't in the tech, its in the carefully fostered perception of their tech.

For storage try a search on "lustre" file system.
For OS try "linux".
For parallel processing try "map reduce".

Hardware is commodity (upper end consumer processors, disks, motherboards).

No patents available for lots of luck and terrific timing.


4:51 pm on Jun 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

patent probing is a pure geek activity

I'm not a geek, but I love reading patents and papers. I'm definitely not at the level of detailed understanding that some people are (especially the maths), but I get enough out of them so they're worth reading, and they can be very useful.

I can't deal with them online, so I've got tons of them printed out and actually do read them. I'd suggest printing out the ones you want to get into, it's definitely a MEGO activity (My Eyes Glaze Over). I find they takes more than one reading - and keeping pencils and pens handy to underline and take notes in the side columns.

The first thing is to scan through the whole thing so you know which parts get mathematical so you can skip over them - unless you're up to the math, which I'm not. What they're trying for is usually condensed into the abstract, so you have to translate that into understandable wording for yourself - and the very act of re-writing it in simple terms helps clarify it.

The claims are hideously repetitious, but read through them anyway and note which of them they keep referring back to - and mark those. It probably won't be clear at that point, but it gives an idea where they're going.

The description toward the end (after the equation stuff, most of which I have to skip) is the part that'll take going over a couple of times, and once those side-column notes are taken and key parts underlined, it's easier to grasp the concepts and be able to go over the major points.

Just the activity of taking the notes while reading helps to clarify, because it'll usually be factors that express concepts - and what you're mainly going after are the concepts rather than the tough mathematical specifics. You'll find by the second time through that you'll spot specific elements that you can recognize, and while it may not seem so, some of them can be directly applied - and comprehended.

Even though just getting or applying for a patent or publishing a paper doesn't mean they actually "use" the thing, there are generally sound elements to be found in the details that are applicable and useful anyway.


4:59 pm on Jun 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

it's definitely a MEGO activity (My Eyes Glaze Over)

perhaps I should have said 'nerd' not 'geek'

Joking, honest! ;)


8:17 pm on Jun 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I thank you for making the difficult seem possible ;) I think I will definitely follow your advice (I need to print things out as well!). With over hundreds of patents, which 5 would you say is the most important (or at least had or have the most impact on the search landscape)?

If you were teaching a 3-hour class to patent lawyers (with no SEO experience) on Search Technology and Google patents, which ones would you cover?

- Information retrieval based on historical data
- Detecting spam documents in a phrase based information retrieval system
- Phrase-based searching in an information retrieval system
- Link based clustering of hyperlinked documents
- Methods and apparatus for estimating similarity (Duplicate content)


9:58 pm on Jun 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'd suggest starting with the PageRank patent. It's primary to Google, it's a lot less complex than the later ones, and seeing how your audience responds will help you with the rest of the presentation. If their eyes glaze over with Page Rank then you will need to back off on more technical details later on. If they dig it, you will know you can give them both barrels.

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