While the U.S. patent community passes another restless Monday without a Supreme Court decision regarding the future of business methods and maybe software patents in the Bilski case, I have been reviewing an excellent new prior art database from IP.com.*  IP.com’s Intellectual Property Library is unique, to my knowledge, among free prior art databases for at least two reasons:  1) it is international; and 2) it searches not just patents, but also non-patent prior art.  The Intellectual Property Library also claims to be the first website outside China offering free access to China’s State Intellectual Property Office patent data.  In my experience, China is a huge and often untapped prior art resource in U.S. patent litigation.

In addition to providing a significant amount of patent and non-patent prior art searching capability without any charge.  The Intellectual Property Library has a very nice interface and the search results appear to be very good.  IP.com promises that in addition to a classic full text search, it offers a sophisticated semantic search engine.  I cannot comment on the sophistication of the system, except to say that I was very happy with the quality and speed of my test searches.  Click here to try out the Intellectual Property Library yourself.  If you would like to see some sample results that IP.com has prepared, check out their Interesting Queries.

*  In the interest of full disclosure, I have used IP.com for professional search services before, and would expect to use them again.  But they have not offered me anything in return for this post, nor would I every accept anything were they to.  I am writing about it only because I like the tool.