Convenient access to multiple patent drawings, be it simultaneously or sequentially, is a highly sought after feature for patent searchers in prior art searching fields such as the Mechanical Arts, due to the visual-friendly nature of a large amount of the subject matter. As I mentioned in a previous posting on classification searching, assessing patents for relevancy and further study via visual inspection may be done under the right circumstances using the right tools. One interesting approach to presenting patent drawings front and center is Google Patents’ “Cover view” (details can be seen halfway down the page).
When the “Cover view” option is selected, the hit list will consist of the first page of drawings for each patent at a capacity between 30 and 100 thumbnails per page of results. This kind of simultaneous viewing allows for very quick scanning of many patents at once, but there are a couple of drawbacks.
The first drawback, as is true of any search on Google Patents, is that searches are limited to US patent documents only, most of which are granted patents and applications. The second drawback is that there is no way to modify the size of the thumbnails. As such, thumbnails are a set pixel width and height (about 84×122) no matter the resolution of one’s screen. If your resolution is set as high as it can go—guilty as charged here—a lot of the detail is indecipherable to the naked eye. If only there was a way to adjust the thumbnail size!
On April 1 2010, Google changed the layout of the “Cover view” page so that the title, assignee, and issue date information appears alongside the thumbnail, instead of appearing when the cursor is positioned over the image. This exacerbated the problem by shrinking the thumbnails. Since Google Patents is sporadically updated (at best), we’ll just have to wait and see if “Cover view” is further modified to include image size settings.
This post was contributed by Intellogist team member Chris Jagalla.