Search U.S. Patents with new Google patent search

For nearly 20 years I’ve dreamed of an easy to use search engine that would index all US Patents and make it easy for any inventor or entrepreneur to do sophisticated patent research.

As an employee of Folio Corporation in the late 1980s, my job was to index huge data collections, such as AICPA content, all the IRS publications, and the US Code for our reference publishers who licensed our search engine technology. We looked at patent data several times, but it was never a project that actually got a sponsor.

With its introduction of Patent Search (in beta), Google has taken another large swath of content and made it more accessible and useful than ever before.

This will be a tremendous boon to inventors and entrepreneurs. Patent attorneys will still have to help the lay person understand what they are finding; but like individuals who do online medical research before going to the doctor, the individuals paying the patent attorneys will be more active in the conversation and more intelligent. Patent law will be less of a secret art and more open to all of us. I think this will have significant positive ramifications to business and entrepreneurship.

For information entrepreneurs like me, check another project off my list of things to do. Google is taking over the information world one large step at a time. Earlier this year Provo Labs kicked off a project to index all the SEC documents that are critical for anyone in the stock market to understand. We were able to easily download and index a large number of public filings. We did it because like the USPTO.gov site, the SEC.gov site is horrible, and all the SEC search engine sites that used to be free (during the bubble) have switched over to subscription models. Like my friend John Bresee says, an advertising model could be disruptive to these companies.

Judd Bagley suggested we launch our annual and quarterly reports search engine under the name 10qverymuch.com. So we bought that domain. But like some of our other vertical search engine ideas, we didn’t get very far along with this project. I’m glad we didn’t attempt a patent search engine; and now I’m just wondering when Google will launch it’s own SEC fillings search engine.

The SEC recently awarded $54 million in contracts, primarily to Keane, to update its Edgar database system over the next few years. I’m not sure that was necessary. Why not let one of the Google employees do this on their 20% time?

Okay, the overhaul is probably still needed; but if part of the contract is for a public-facing search engine upgrade on the SEC.gov web site, that would be completely unnecessary because Google will do this sooner or later.

I would hate to be Edgar Online right now, with Google on the prowl to index all the world’s content and make it free. Imagine the hit to the EDGR stock if and when Google unveils its SEC search engine. Ouch.

I would also hate to be 10kwizards.com, a company that I have admired.

I’m glad that Provo Labs didn’t fully fund and develop an SEC search engine, a plan which I blogged about in February, because there is no doubt in my mind that someone at Google is working on this right now.

It’s like trying to be Encyclopedia Britannica with Wikipedia around. What in the world would you do to survive? I just don’t think it’s possible.

Fortunately, for internet entrepreneurs, Google is great at search but not yet so good at community. And that leaves opportunities for information entrepreneurs who empower people to connect with each other as well as with the information they need.

But the window will close quickly. Google’s acquisition spree continues and its two latest purchases, JotSpot and YouTube are squarely in the community space. They join earlier acquisitions Pyra Labs (creator of Blogger.com) and Dodgeball, which gave Google the world’s largest blogging network and a mobile application for social networking.

Clayton Christensen, speaker at the first Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco (I can’t remember if it was 2004 or 2005) said that technology entrepreneurs had to add value to the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and Php) and all the other open source software and web services that are freely available by doing something innovative on top of the stack.

This is really good news for entrepreneurs. Milions of dollars of development work has already been done for us, and we just have to add something new on top of the stack, in order to create value for customers.

With information entrepreneurs, I think we need to accept the fact that Google and other companies will be indexing virtually all the data in the world and providing most of it for free to everyone. As Christensen says, we’ll have to build something valueable on top of this free stack of data. It might be organizing it in a particular way, or building online communities around it, or providing online learning that takes advantage of the free information, or providing tools that help people utilize it and apply information better in their daily work, such as mobile or smart apps that are location aware or sensitive to what you are doing, so they intelligently bring the right information to you at the right time.

I believe there are more opportunities than ever before for entrepreneurs. They’re just a few notches higher on the value stack than they used to be.

Pay Per Click Marketing Credits: $50 from Ask.com, $300 from LookSmart

My most popular post in the past six months was the one last week about getting a $200 in pay-per-click advertising credit from MSN.com if you sign up for a new account (which costs $5.)

I had record traffic numbers for three days.

So, being the fast learner that I am, I figure that I should give my readers more of what they want. So I’ll keep looking for money-saving offers and credits from online advertisers who want more business.

One of my readers thought the MSN offer was not valid. He said the site was hosted at Rackspace, which made him suspicious and that he called Microsoft who had not heard of this offer.

I signed up for it and actually got the $200 credit in my account, so I’m pretty sure it’s valid. :)

Also, if you search for “MSN Adcenter” on Google, MSN is paying for clicks and sending people to an identical signup page, only with a $100 credit, instead of the $200 credit that I am sending people to.

The Alexa chart for Startadcenter.com is excellent. This promotion is going very well for Microsoft.

So far I’ve had 3,000 impressions and no clicks on my ad campaign, which is locally targeted Utah users only. Today I added another 50 keywords and am going to use my MSN credit to get more blog readers.

Back to the topic of today’s post: more credit for signing up with other advertisers.

At Search Engine Strategies Chicago I visited most of the booths of the companies in the Exhibit Hall, in between attending sessions.

I found a $50 credit from Ask.com which I was given permission to blog about. Ask.com’s market share has been creeping up lately, and with the launch of Ask City, their traffic should grow even more.

To claim your $50 credit from Ask.com, sign up at sponsoredlistings.ask.com, and enter promo code SESCHI06 during the check-out process.

Even better, I picked up a $300 credit from LookSmart for setting up a new account. The product manager at the booth wasn’t sure that I could blog about this. This might, of course, be limited to SES attendees only.

But just moments ago, he called me from the airport and told me that I have permission to blog about this $300 credit.

The offer expires on 12/25/06, so you better act on this quickly. Visit AdCenter.LookSmart.com, click on the sign up button, and enter this coupon code at check-out: SESCHQ4

This offer is good for first time LookSmart advertisers only and your daily budget must be set to $10 or higher.

So thanks for reading my blog today. It feels good to give out $350. Consider it an early Christmas present from me to you.

In return, please tell all the internet marketers you know about these excellent offers. I would appreciate links to this blog post.

Answer: Yes

I asked the question in my last post, “Will Compete’s toolbar become an essential tool for internet marketers.” After 15 minutes with the tool, and after watching the excellent Flash presentation about what this service aims to do, I answer with a resounding, “Yes!”

My favorite slide in the Flash presentation was this:

Free Image Hosting

I checked out the one year history on several of my companies and several other sites; at first glance, the traffic data seems quite reliable. For example, here is the trend data for three popular genealogy sites.

15 minutes isn’t enough to integrate something into my daily workflow. But it is enough time for me to decide that I’m going to start using it every day so I can see if it sticks.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I am inviting all the internet marketers that I know to try Connect’s Toolbar, look at their traffic data, and post comments about whether you think this will replace Alexa, first, and also, how disruptive this new service will be to Hitwise, Comscore, and Netratings.

Will Compete’s Toolbar become an essential tool for internet marketers?

Bill Gross, one of the world’s most prolific entrepreneurs and an inspiration to me for more than 10 years, officially launched Compete.com today. (See the Alexa Chart for Compete.com.)

I just downloaded the Compete toolbar. The graphics indicates that 2 million people are already sharing their clicks so that we can all know better what sites are popular and what sites we can trust.

The two essential toolbars that I install on every PC I use are Google’s (mainly for the page rank and backward links info, and for convenience of searching) and Alexa’s. Every internet marketer needs both of these toolbars.

Just yesterday I read that some industry experts were complaining about how everyone who can’t afford a high-end reliable web site analytics program like Hitwise or Comscore use Alexa to see how popular web sites are. Alexa’s data is not statistically very reliable, even with 10 million downloads of its toolbar. But Alexa data shows up in almost every VC pitch these days.

So if Compete can provide better data than Alexa, we’ll all be better off.

My favorite industry statistics web site of all time is Top9.com. It used data from PC Data, but it had the best categorizations and the easiest UI of all the web analytics companies. But it hasn’t been updated since 2001.

Note to Bill Gross: please buy Top9.com and start powering it with the data you gather from Compete.com.

Next 3 days: free online conference on internet marketing

If you can afford to stop working for part or all of the next three days, you can hear from dozens of the most successful online marketers in the industry–for free and from the convenience of your own home or office.

(Or you can sign up for $99.95 and get access to more than 175 online presentations–that’s one a day for the next 6 months.)

ecomXpo starts today (Oct. 24th), with free sessions over the next 3 days from key employees at Google, Yahoo, eBay, Microsoft AdCenter, LinkShare, Searchfeed, iHispanic, Performics, and MarketingSherpa, and many others.

Utah affiliate guru Jeremy Palmer (Quityourdayjob.com) will also be presenting, as will one of my favorite authors, John Battelle, who wrote “The Search” (how Google changed the search industry.) His SearchBlog is the best coverage of the search engine industry.

I highly recommend that you budget time every day to stay sharp in internet marketing. My own personal knowledge plan has included reading MarketingSherpa every week and all the daily newsletters that come from MarketingVOX. After learning about eComXpo from Brad Pace, internet marketing specialist at Provo Labs, I’m now planning to subscribe to ecomXpo University so that I can hear these presentations over the next several months.

Free conference call for entrepreneurs

I’m back from a 10-day vacation to Florida and the Western Caribbean (I even swam with stingrays at Disneys Castaway Cay). I am well-rested and eager to spend more time promoting entrepreneurship. This week I have several important things on my calendar.

Tomorrow at 1 pm MST I will be doing another Conference Call University teleseminar on entrepreneurship. Normally listeners pay to join these conference calls where we answer questions submitted by attendees.

But tomorrow we are offering free registration. Please visit www.learnfrompaulallen.com to sign up. Space is limited, so sign up now.

Later in the week Corporate Alliance is holding its three-day Reunion Summit, where more than 200 business owners/managers from Utah will be networking and deepening their relationships with one another. I love the culture that Corporate Alliance promotes.

Thursday I have been asked to speak at the Utah Valley Leadership Summit at Sundance from 8:15-8:45 am. I’m excited to talk with more than 100 business leaders about the state of entrepreneurship in Utah county and to talk about the role the media, government and educational institutions can play in promoting it.

Thursday afternoon my BYU lecture will cover pay-per-click marketing and search engine optimization–two of the best ways to bring visitors to your web site.

Finally, we are days away from opening up the new Provo Labs Academy on 9th east in Provo, across the street from BYU. Our internet access (including wireless) and phone systems should be ready by the end of the week. Our library is being organized and our conference room is being prepared. Most of our workstations should be furnished and ready to rent by next Monday. I’m working on the training curriculum and guest lecture calendar. This is going to be a lot of fun.

I recently blogged about the reasons that entrepreneurs give for wanting to join the Provo Labs Academy:

The #1 reason for people wanting to join the Academy was to be close to other entrepreneurs! 2nd was internet marketing training. And #3 was the location.

We hope to have 50 entrepreneurs in the Academy by the end of the year. I’ll post the training topics soon and also the list of confirmed guest speakers, so you can see even more reasons to join.

And for those of you who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from our entrepreneurial paradise here in Provo, Utah, there’s always the Conference Call University. Remember the free call tomorrow at 1 pm MST.

Don’t overlook free products and services online

Blake Snow has a nice post about 20 free products and services that he uses online. He lists several that I have not used before. I’ll need to try them out so I can add them to my recommendations for entrepreneurs list, and make sure they get added to StrategyTree.com, my wiki for entrepreneurs.

I’ve recently mentioned Google Spreadsheets, which I love. And for years I’ve been recommending Vistaprint.com for free business cards (pay for shipping only). There are so many great free things online for startup companies, it’s amazing.