Earlier today, Google rolled out a brand new feature for its online patent research tool: prior art search. Now, while looking at a patent, you can click a single button to pull up a host of results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, with a bit of Google's typical search results sprinkled on top. The goal, of course, is to aid in researching whether a patent that's been filed is "new and not obvious." Which is far more complex than it sounds.
Reading between the lines, one could possibly infer that Google wants to make it easier on its partners (or itself) to prove their inventions are unique, or to avoid infringing patents that have already been granted (which is different from a patent that has been filed, mind you).