Search engine outfit Google has been accused of nicking its idea for instant search from a British developer.
Pal Sahota claims to have “invented search-as-you-type” in 1989 and has proof.
To be fair to Google no one at the time would have known that he had managed it. In 1989 Google was not even around.
Google filed the patent for Instant Search in 2004, and was granted patent in November 2010. Here is a video he made of his invention in 1991.
When Sahota invented Instant Search software was not patentable in the EU. Software was automatically covered under copyright laws.
He tried to get in touch with Google and the US Patent Office but no one seems to be keen to investigate the mistake.
He said that Google is clearly using the same search-as-you-type format he used which can be clearly seen from the newspaper cuttings on his bog.
The basic principle is that the redundant time between each key press is used to search the database. As the user starts to type, the data is block read into memory which is then processed at each key press and displayed.
“The “flow diagrams” would have been almost identical to Google’s if I had been allowed to patent the product in the UK in 1989,” Sahota claims
Comparing the videos between Google and his own method, the data is accessed in the same way. It is basically the same “user-interface”
Both Google’s and Sahota’s method search the data from the hard drive at each key press. The data is different but the algorithm is almost identical. The appropriate parts of the data are shown as a list of options and the most appropriate is highlighted. The user-interface is the same in “what is typed and the displayed result”.
Sahota said that he knows that what he did 20 years ago is now being done in various forms such as in database access, word processors and other various applications.
But it is more than ‘merely’ searching records from the database. The algorithm for displaying the results is complex and custom made for each application.
Google is also using Sahota’s copyright name of “Search-as-you-type” in the new Search-as-you-Type applications too.
It is not as if the idea was not used. It went under the bonnet of software called Autodispens which is a pharmacy management system which is still being sold in the UK.