What you do not know about Google Image Search

If you are a person who deals with design patents, then we have written this article for you. This article highlights how conducting design searches using Google Image Search feature could throw confidentiality out of the window, especially in cases of patentability searches.

What are your thoughts on novelty and design search? Which one would you rank as comparatively difficult?

Most would answer that both are difficult since in case of novelty search, we don’t have the exact invention and in design search, we are short with the technical keywords. I personally felt this way for a long time until I stumbled across the “Google Image Search” feature.

Any searcher who has used this feature to conduct design searches would agree that the feature makes it really easy to conduct a design search. Metaphorically, you have to do nothing – Simply upload the required images on the platform and get the relevant results (X reference if you are lucky, internally we call it Tier I).

However, most inventors have little idea that the feature which seemed like a blessing could hurt in more ways than one.

When your invention is more related to design its very difficult to search using keywords. So, most or all the information that you have on the invention would be in the form of images.

Most inventors think that using “Google Image Search” can quickly give them an idea if something similar exists out there.

When we share this with inventors, they are mostly bewildered and are curious to know why they can not use this strategy, which is pretty helpful and fetches good results easily. However, when we explain the reason behind it, which is – Google saves the data user searches for in their database. For instance, if we upload a picture on the “Google Image Search”, Google will store that image in the Google database for 7 days (source).

This means if someone else in the world is researching on the same concept, it is quite possible that Google would show the same images to that person. It throws confidentiality out of the window, especially on patentability cases.

This was literally an eye-opener for most of the inventors. Therefore, we want everyone in the inventor and IP community to understand the sensitivity related to uploading images on Google.

TL;DR: “Google Image Search” is a good tool, but one has to choose very wisely when to use it and when not.

Authored by: Akshay Agarwal, Research Analyst, Search Team. 

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