Google has launched a patents search service at http://www.google.com/patents which as a service looks quite interesting.
On a slightly a related subject ZDNET reports that U.S Patent Office awarded a Design Patent to Google that covers “the ornamental design for a graphical user interface” of Googl’e search results page. Google are not patenting “searching” but that the specific visual look of their search page.
Some critics are pointing out that the awarding of this patent is more evidence that the granting of software patents is spiralling out of control. This whole issue is currently being debated by the Supreme Court.