- Why are they doing this?
- Do they intend to monetize this?
- How will this affect the competition? (Not really relevant here.)
This is basically a more user friendly version of the USPTO site.
Will Google serve ads against the searches? Maybe eventually. But Google probably built this with two engineers in their spare time. There’s no additional costs associated with this new application and it’s consistent with the “organize the world’s information” mission. (Confirmed by the Google Blog.)
The thing that makes people crazy is the way Google can casually and quickly build products, with almost seeming indifference to whether they succeed or fail on their own. All this can be subsidized by the success of paid search and it reinforces the Google brand if only indirectly.