• Boolean IP Team

IP Leakages from Search Engines

Updated: Nov 29

Recently, the world witnessed its first proposal for considering Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a patent inventor that was later rejected on the merit of current patent laws requiring an inventor to be a natural person. Although, people have claimed to have secured patents for AI-generated inventions since at least the 1980s, but no one has ever disclosed an AI’s role in such a patent application. AI’s revolutionary technologies are mostly common buzzwords, like “natural language processing,” “deep learning,” and “predictive analytics.” These are cutting-edge technologies that enable computer systems to understand the meaning of human language, learn from experience, and make predictions, respectively. AI development has come a long way now to creating a machine capable of mimicking the many thoughts a human has when originating a novel invention.

Now, how does AI impact your internet searching abilities? Search engines have huge databases that the only way they are able to sort and screen through all of their potential results to show you the best results for your search is with AI. Although this is a great feature, the only catch is that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and most other search engines collect and store records of your search queries that are further processed (again by AI) to improve their services and provide you with relevant personalized service proposals.

This aspect of search engines seems great at a first glimpse. However, if the substance of certain queries became known, particularly queries concerning intellectual property and legal matters, it might cause significant problems for searchers. For example, a trademark must be maintained and “in use” in order to remain valid. If a competitor were alerted that someone was inquiring about their trademark, they could quickly renew it and put it back in use. Similarly, in patent searching, one could really find out quite a lot about a proposed invention by examining the search strategy, particularly within the science and in technical fields. The information thus revealed might even give the idea away completely or at least allow others to start developments along the same path.

Most inventors perform searches related to their novel ideas on free search engines such as Google that clearly mentions in its privacy policy that they store your personal information and search records. Some inventors and patent searchers even use free specialized patent databases such as Espacenet, lens.org, USPTO or Google patent etc. Most of these free patent databases do mention in their website privacy policy or usage terms that they do not store search queries in their databases, inspect logs to inform their own patenting strategies and maintain confidentiality, and not disclose any information to third parties. The validity of these asseverations can only be ascertained by reliable means such as a thorough source code analysis, eDiscovery, etc. Though, there have been incidents in the past when these assertions have been found to be breached.

For an inventor or a patent searcher, privacy and data security is of profound concern. Maintaining the confidentiality of search terms used during searching becomes particularly important in patent and intellectual property searches. In these searches, just the questions asked could give away competitive advantages. We discuss below some of the search privacy tips. They range from straightforward steps that offer a little protection to more complicated measures that offer near-complete safety.

Use Paid Search Engines, Whenever Possible

Search services based on subscriber-based revenues have financial incentives to keep customer information and queries confidential, since users will take their business elsewhere if they do not get the privacy they expect. Apart from that, paid search engines allow its users many other features and advantages over free search providers.

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