Lost in Patent Translation

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Translating patents can be a tricky proposition. In terms of searching, you can locate foreign patent documents by doing some fast translating through an online service, but often times that’s just not enough. Can you be certain that your online tool of choice is proper for the jargon of the technical subject matter at hand? What if your prosecution came down to one important non-English document?

Then there’s patent preparation. If you’re filing in different languages you’re starting from scratch! Since small changes in word choices and grammar are of utmost importance in patent law, it’s important to have technical translation professionals handle the job from the start. Read on for a collection of posts we’ve made about patent translation as well as information about a free webinar that can illustrate the importance of using a technical translation service in the patent preparation and application process.


As we pointed out in our recent “News round-up” post, using non-English patent office website search systems can be accomplished at a basic level via the help of an online translation site such as Google Translate. The issue here is that certain terms may have multiple definitions that will not be revealed via a quick internet translation. For example, patent practitioners know that certain English words are preferred for use within a patent application. Words or phrases like “consists” or “comprises” form the basics of claim construction that serve as the legal basis of interpreting patent rights. Technical words such as “collar” or “switch” can mean different things depending on the subject matter context. Google Translate doesn’t know the difference in these cases, and that can completely change the meaning of a patent document.

Using on-site integrated solutions for patent translation can afford a better and more predictable experience, but is not a substitute for a professional technical translation during a search. Cross-lingual search from PATENTSCOPE is promising because it uses technology-specific dictionaries instead of a global language dictionary, but are you going to trust your multi-million dollar lawsuit to a machine database instead of turning to a native language expert?

Starting from scratch by drafting your own patent application into multiple languages can provide a new set of problems. An extra layer of complexity is added when a patent application requires translation into another language for filing purposes. Translation alone can account for 25-30% of the total costs of prosecution. In addition, poorly-translated text can add hours to your in-house review time — hours you may not be able to afford. The time to consider all of these issues is before you face a critical deadline.

To find out how you can address these problems, we invite you to join Davis & Bujold, P.L.L.C. and our parent company Landon IP, Inc. for a FREE webinar presenting an in-depth analysis of the challenges posed by translation for foreign filing purposes, as well as the solutions they’ve created together to solve them!

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Technical Translations from Landon IP

This post was edited by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla.

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