Applying for patent protection in a foreign jurisdiction can be fraught with difficulties every step of the way. If not handled properly, translating the patent application from its original language to that of the target jurisdiction can lead to huge problems that could come back to bite you down the road, sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars in lost intellectual property protection.
Recent news out of the Northern District of Georgia provides even more evidence of the fact that shoddy patent claim translation can result in reduced intellectual property rights. According to an article on Lexology:
In a case between KEG Kanalreinigungstechnik GmbH and KEG Technologies, Inc. (“KEG”) and Reinhart Laimer, Sewer Equipment Corporation, USB-Sewer Equipment Corporation, Ulrich Simpfendörfer, USB-Duesen, USB-Sewer Equipment International GmbH, Patrick Savio, Daniel Long and Elke Krantz (“Laimer”) over patents drawn to “hydrodynamic nozzles” for cleaning the inside surface of underground sewer pipes, Chief Judge Julie Carnes appointed Special Master Gale R. Peterson of San Antonio, Texas to preside over the Markman claim construction hearing and submit a report and recommendation on claim construction to the Court.
The patent applications in question were originally filed in Germany and then translated to English and filed in the United States. The Special Master concluded in his report that:
some of the claim language is “awkward” as a result of the translation.
Laimer contended that some of the claim terms and phrases are beyond “awkward,” and instead are “unintelligible” and render the claims indefinite and invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 112(2).
The report stated:
although the master finds the claims amenable to construction, that does not necessarily mean that the claim passes muster under § 112(2). That is a question for another day.
Although the parties agreed on constructions for some of the terms and phrases of the asserted claims, the Special Master recommended constructions for the other disputed claim language as well. This is yet another example of a poor translation preventing an applicant from getting the exact protection they were seeking.
One bad document translation can cost a company dearly, and this has been clearly demonstrated again by Special Master Peterson. Gale R. Peterson is also a faculty member of Patent Resources Group, the leading provider of U.S. patent bar review and advanced U.S. patent law education, and a fully-owned subsidiary of Landon IP.
How can you avoid a bad patent translation ruining your business?
Customers should only consider professional technical translators who possess an in-depth knowledge of the patent process and the relevant technical art when choosing who will translate the patent documents they intend to use to file an international patent application. Landon IP is a leading provider of patent translation services and other patent-related services, including patent search, and advanced patent law training (Patent Resources Group).