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Google Patents website versions

May 22, 2017 Comments off

UPDATE (Sep 25, 2017): The “Google Patents Images” Chrome browser extension only works if there are images available to load. It appears that all the latest patents no longer have images available. Therefore, I now find myself using the new Google Patents instead to be able to see the images. Because of this I have created another Chrome browser extension, “Google Patents Widescreen,” to offer better readability of the new Google Patents presentation.


In a previous post about expedited single-patent analysis I discuss how much I enjoy the layout format of the version of Google Patents available at the URL syntax of https://www.google.com/patents/patent_identifier. I continue to use this site for reviewing patents in my daily work.

There is also a newer version of Google Patents available at the URL syntax of https://patents.google.com/patent/patent_identifier. This newer version of Google Patents has a variety of improvements over the previous version, such as detailed search capability, patent expiration information, and claim text search term highlighting. The image viewer is also different, though not necessarily better, depending upon the circumstances (as detailed below).

That said, for several reasons I find myself continuing to prefer the previous version of Google Patents, which as of this writing is still available. These reasons include issues with the newer version, which were communicated to the Google Patents development team in 2016, albeit to no reply as of this writing:

  1. Unnecessary Search Column: It would be helpful to be able to collapse the left-most column containing the search fields. Often, when one is reviewing a particular patent, there’s no desire to perform more searches. I admit that I sometimes work from a Chromebook with an 11-inch display, so having that left column go away would provide more precious real estate for the specification content, or possibly allow for images to be shown on the right side.
  2. Small Images Viewer: For the drawings/images/figures, they are presented in a very small area when using a smaller display device, especially when centered with the rest of the content. I often cannot sufficiently see them and therefore must open them in a new window. While it’s often helpful to be able to see the images while still viewing the rest of the content, it would be beneficial to be able to open the set of drawings in a superimposed pop-up like is done for the legacy Google Patents — in this way a new window/tab is not needed, and one can scroll through all the figures quickly, all while being able to sufficiently see them.
  3. Less-Accessible Metadata: It would be better to include the “Also Published As” information in the top metadata box instead of linking to a full list at the bottom of the page. The preexisting Google Patents solution has a collapsed list of related patents, and this would be the preferable solution for ease and speed of use. Or even a hover or pop-up box with the information would be helpful. Searchers and analysts very often need to see what family members there are, particularly US family members, and so having to go all the way to the bottom of the page to see this very important metadata is counter-intuitive and slow.
  4. Much Slower Page Load Time: Beyond viewing the information, the speed of loading of a single newer Google Patents page is now painfully slow, especially as compared to the loading of the earlier version. And the newer pages will not completely load until after a browser tab/window is put into focus, as opposed to the legacy version which loads without being in focus. The newer pages have a title of “Result” on the browser tab until viewed.

One issue that arose in 2016 was that on the legacy Google Patents, newer patents’ images were not being shown because the associated image links were broken. Perhaps this is intentional so as to encourage users to the newer Google Patents, or perhaps it’s because the legacy version is no longer being actively supported (or both). In any case, because I prefer the legacy version, I created a Chrome browser extension called “Google Patents Images” which on the fly modifies the image links for legacy Google Patents to use the image links for the newer Google Patents. The extension should work automatically for any legacy Google Patents page after the initial installation of the extension (as long as JavaScript is enabled).

The first issued US patent with broken figure images is 8,856,962 — all patents before that patent work OK. The first broken US pre-grant publication is 2014/0304877, while the first broken US design patent is D715016.

Replacing the images allows for viewing the images, but the controls to go to the previous/next images are still broken — these are controlled in the page’s JavaScript, which cannot be manipulated by a Chrome extension.

Google Patents Images Chrome extension

Google Patents Images Chrome extension

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