Google Patent search has been one of the primary means of finding free patent information online since it’s launch in December 2006. Brian Law at Solid Impressions has put up an extremely useful post on Patent Searches and gives his experience with using Google Patent Search.
I agree that finding patent information use to be much more difficult, but new technology has been making it easier. Below are the sites he suggests. There’s also another site that brings Web 2.0 collaboration and patents together called Peer to Patent. This site allows users to help each other out by reviewing and commenting on patent that are submitted.