Google's latest search tools allows you to search the database of the US Patent Office, thanks to a project similar to Google Book Search.
The beta of Google Patent Search lets you look through the full text of the US patent corpus to find what interests you.
We're guessing tech bloggers worldwide are busy searching for “Apple” and “Microsoft” this morning, as many of the features of new and unannounced devices have been discovered by sleuthing through the Patent Office website.
In an entry in the Google Blog, Doug Banks writes, “Google Patent Search uses much of the same technology that powers Google Book Search, so you can scroll through pages and zoom in on text and illustrations just like you can with books".
“It's a natural extension of our mission to make this public domain government information more easily accessible using Google's search technology. We're pleased to have started with over 7 million patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and look forward to expanding our coverage over time.”