Search engine giant Google purchased a massive number of patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office about six months ago. The company has placed them in a database that covers patents issued from the 1790s through the middle of 2006 -- about 7 million patents.
On the site, Google says that it does not currently include patent applications, international patents, or U.S. patents issued over the last few months, but Google says they are hoping to expand its coverage in the future.
A Google spokeswoman said that the company receives a DVD from PTO every week with new patents, and Google uploads the data on a regular basis.
Spokeswomen for both the patent office and Google declined to say how much Google pays for the patents database. A catalogue of PTO products that are for sale is available on the agency's Web site.
A PTO spokeswoman said that the agency is pleased that Google has set up the database because one of the agency's missions is to disseminate information.