Three Reasons Your Patent Translations May Be Inaccurate – and Why It May Cost You Millions

Traklight Blog

By Michael Sneddon

In today’s global economy, inventions and products easily cross borders. For multinational corporations with intellectual property (IP) at the very foundation of their business, keeping IP secure is essential to survival. This security requires treating the invention as a trade secret or filing patents in specific jurisdictions around the world. Obtaining patent protection in multiple jurisdictions requires patent applications to be translated to and from a variety of languages.

If you’re experienced with translations, you may incorrectly assume you can approach patent translation in the same way you approach other translation projects. Many materials can be reworded, adjusted, modified and reformatted to accommodate linguistic and cultural nuances. Patents, on the other hand, require very specialized and precise technical and legal language. Even one inaccurate or confusing translation can jeopardize the patent, potentially costing millions of dollars in lost revenue and damaged brand reputation. Furthermore, every patent’s style, structure and formatting must adhere to the specific rules of the applicable patent office having jurisdiction for the filing, prosecution of the patent, and the award of coverage.

What You Might Be Missing…

Considering the importance of accurate patent translations, there are several criteria to consider to ensure the translators – or patent translation service – you are working with are providing the most accurate patent translations – translations that can withstand prosecution and litigation.

Here are three reasons your patent translations may not be as accurate as you think they are:

1. You didn’t confirm the translator’s expertise: Patents are intricate documents that require specialized knowledge. Patent translators need to have a clear understanding of a client’s IP and the technical field it relates to, together with native language skills and expertise in the legal terminology and sentence structure used in patents. Sometimes these structural norms contradict normal rules of grammar. Patents will incorporate industry-specific terms based on the particular field relating to the IP and legal terms relating to the patent. For example, the technical accuracy of the patent’s description or specification section, and the legal accuracy of the claim section, will depend on a translator’s knowledge and understanding of both sets of terms. In addition, patent translators need a clear understanding of patent requirements in the target country. This includes the formatting and structure required by each foreign patent office.

2. You didn’t know that the review process is as important as the translation: For patent translation projects, quality is achieved through a defined process that includes translation, edits and reviews performed by multiple professionals, each of whom have the required specialized training and specific knowledge relating to the patent being translated. When only one translator attempts to translate and edit a patent, the benefits of this multiple-person, comprehensive process are lost.

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