According to Fortune, the United States Patent Office awarded Google a Patent today for the technology behind Google Instant Search.
The granting of the patent means that other search engines won’t be able to provide the exact same type of search functionality as Google without licensing the technology from Google.
Fortune points out that the “the inclusion of prior queries submitted by a community of users, and may take into account a user profile.” could certainly be applied to social search like the collaboration that Facebook and Microsoft announced last month.
United States Patent 7836044 covers Anticipated query generation and processing in a search engine and was filed in June of 2004. It is described as:
“A search system monitors the input of a search query by a user. Before the user finishes entering the search query, the search system identifies and sends a portion of the query as a partial query to the search engine. Based on the partial query, the search engine creates a set of predicted queries. This process may take into account prior queries submitted by a community of users, and may take into account a user profile. The predicted queries are be sent back to the user for possible selection. The search system may also cache search results corresponding to one or more of the predicted queries in anticipation of the user selecting one of the predicted queries. The search engine may also return at least a portion of the search results corresponding to one or more of the predicted queries.”