The European Patent Office (EPO) and the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) has joined forces to launch a patent translation service.

Using the machine translator, EPO and JPO have joined to launch a patent translation service. Inventors will be able to translate more than one million patent documents stored on EPO’s global patent database from Japanese to English or vice versa. As a result, inventors in the west and those in Japan will benefit from increased access to this information. It will also be valuable for anyone wishing to file an international patent application to break into a foreign market.

Another hope for the technology is that it will boost competition among businesses in Europe. They will be able to examine Japanese patent documents in order to improve their research and development work. In addition to individual investors and larger businesses, patent offices will be able to use the Patent Translate tool.  Therefore, by examining Japanese patents they can further develop their own service. EPO president Benoît Battistelli said while speaking with JPO representatives at the IP5 meeting “the European economy as a whole will benefit from high quality patents”. JPO commissioner Hiroyuki Fukano said the language barrier has been a problem recently as intellectual property is increasingly globalised.

Are more languages coming in the future?

Japanese is not the only language on offer. Patent Translate also enables the translation of patents from English into 15 other languages and back again. Among the additional languages on offer are Chinese, French, German, Polish and Italian. They will add more languages over the next few years.

While we recognises the value of the patent translation system, relying on the accuracy of machine translations is risky. Free software such as the translation tools offered by search engines can provide inaccurate answers, despite saving time. That’s why it is worth having the results checked by a human translator in order to ensure that the information is accurate. If the patent is vital for research and development purposes, it is important that the information it contains is correct.

People using the patent tool will benefit from being able to see the original text line by line under the translation. This means it should be simple to get it verified by someone who speaks the language as their mother tongue. However, if obtaining the information within the patent is vital, a better course of action might be to have it translated fully by a qualified translator to start with.