Google wins new chance for patent on search engine safety filter

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  • Google wants patent on age-appropriate search filter
  • Appeals court said PTO did not support decision on appeal

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google LLC won an order from a U.S. appeals court on Monday that revives its application for a patent covering technology that filters out age-inappropriate search results.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s arguments for defending a decision to reject Google’s application were not supported by the office’s original findings.

Google spokesperson José Castañeda said the company was pleased with the decision. The PTO declined to comment.

Google’s website says the tech giant owns “over 50,000 patent assets worldwide.” It filed an application in 2015 to patent methods for a filter that assigns a “safety score” to a search and compares it to a threshold value to determine what results will be shown.

The PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed an examiner’s decision to reject Google’s application because the invention would have been obvious based on a combination of another patent and an earlier patent application.

The Federal Circuit threw out the ruling on Monday. The appeals court said the PTO’s logic on appeal did not line up with the board’s reasons for rejecting Google’s application.

“Meritorious or not, the PTO’s arguments cannot sustain the Board’s decision below because they do not reflect the reasoning or findings the Board actually invoked,” Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

The case is In re Google LLC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 22-1012.

For Google: Shayon Ghosh and Andrew Trask of Williams & Connolly

For the PTO: Robert McBride of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at

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