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3 Essentials for Reducing Litigation Risk When Protecting IP

by Jeremy Coombs, PMP, MultiLing Senior Vice President of Operations

The world’s largest biotechnology companies file thousands of domestic and foreign patents each year to protect their valuable intellectual property. Unfortunately, the successful filing and issuance of a patent doesn’t ensure its safety. In fact, a poorly drafted patent—one with inaccurate or incomplete details and terminology from the start, before any translation begins—may result in patents being challenged in court by competition and ultimately invalidated.

To reduce the possibility of litigation long before it happens, companies must repeatedly implement best practices with a focus on quality from the start, including:

  • The quality of the patent itself;
  • The quality of the legal counsel; and
  • The quality of the translations that facilitate foreign patent filings aimed at protecting IP on a global scale.

Let’s look at these a little more closely:

Ensure Quality Patent Applications from the Start. Quality patent applications—with precise and specific terminology—ensure that the specific invention is covered accurately in the original language so subsequent translations begin from quality documents. Those drafting patent applications must know the market, the subject matter and the relevant inventions that have been patented previously and those that are in public domain.

Contract with Quality Legal Teams Familiar with Filing Processes. In addition to subject matter experts, only work with knowledgeable legal practitioners that are up to date with the current laws, rules and procedures in the jurisdictions in which you are seeking protection. Companies or inventors that understand the significance of inadvertent disclosure, for example, ensure that their legal team works closely with their R&D and marketing teams before making any information about the invention public. For example, an enterprise working with a large IP law firm learned this the hard way. The firm received an urgent call from the client just 24 hours before a presentation in Japan. Due to a lack of communication among product, legal and marketing teams, the enterprise needed a patent application translated and filed before disclosure to avoid losing its patent rights in various countries. Under great stress and at significant added costs, the firm completed the request, but this fire drill was a costly misstep for the enterprise.

Hire Expert Translators with Streamlined Quality Processes. Patent terminology plays a huge role in litigation, regardless of where the litigation originates. This is why all patent filings should be carefully and precisely drafted and then translated by specialized teams that include in-country native linguists, scientists and legal specialists who are familiar with the applicable technology. Ensure your patent translation service provider uses terminology management systems that will keep track of terms that may be less common, or that need to remain precise, and that are consistent across multiple languages in a streamlined database.

Even one misused word can leave a patent vulnerable to litigation, as well as create costly delays during the review of the patent application. For example, while European translations of chemical names can look very similar to English speakers, only an experienced chemist could employ the proper Chinese equivalent.
The difference of a single letter in English (e.g., “methyl” and “ethyl” in a long chemical name) changes the entire name of the chemical in Chinese. Having the wrong chemical in the translation can render that portion of the patent unenforceable.

Although the only way to eliminate the risk of litigation completely is to stop doing business altogether, this leaves the world with an obvious undesirable impact on growth, prosperity and continual change in commerce. Ensuring that quality documents are created by quality people, processes and technologies will go a long way in reducing overall risk and minimizing negative impact on enterprising business across the globe. This is especially critical as biotechnology companies continue to produce more and more IP that needs to be protected worldwide.

In the News: MultiLing Quietly Handles Business Translations for Global Commerce

daily heraldProvo, Utah’s local newspaper – the Daily Herald – published an article Sunday about MultiLing’s quiet presence in the city, while at the same time being a hugely global company as it provides business translations for intellectual property departments at global enterprises. MultiLing has had its headquarters in Provo since being founded in 1988 by Michael Sneddon, who is currently president and CEO.

MultiLing_Michael_SneddonThe Daily Herald reported on the company’s strategy and unique culture: “For the first decade of the company’s operations, Sneddon drew on the natural linguistic talents…and the many international speakers that flocked to the valley. The company translated anything and everything. That changed 17 years ago.”

Sneddon saw an opportunity to focus on translating technical patents for companies and “really innovated the way corporations translate the legal documents associated with patents,” said Lyle Ball, COO.

“We’ve specialized ourselves in highly technical patents….All of our translators need to speak three languages, actually – their native language, English, and lawyer-speak,” commented Jeremy Coombs, senior vice president of operations.

And Coombs, who’s been at MultiLing for almost 17 years, enjoys rubbing shoulders with 20 to 30 cultures each day. “Our office is a little U.N. here, but the MultiLing culture is the recipe that holds us together,” Coombs added.

You can access the full article in the MultiLing news room.

Basic Tips for IP Translations in Asian Languages

© Toa555 | Dreamstime.com - Asian Lanterns Photo

© Toa555 | Dreamstime.com – Asian Lanterns Photo

Translating to and from Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, has a unique set of challenges. A 2013 study conducted by the Steinbeis Transfer Institute of Stuttgart, Germany, showed that patent errors happen most often with these Asian languages. While not impossible to overcome the challenges of IP translations into Asian languages, enterprises currently seeking to do business in these Asian countries often experience years of lost revenue due to longer time-to-grant for their patents, more office actions and limited scopes of patent rights.

IPFrontline-scaled-logoIn a recent article published in IP Frontline, Adam Bigelow, Asia regional director for MultiLing, outlines several tips for filing patents in each of the countries.

“Having an expert in each country that not only knows the language, but also the culture and filing process of each country – including where to find case histories and related art – is critical. Those filing for patent protection, however, should be familiar with key requirements in these three countries to facilitate patent protection.”

Find the full article here.

MultiLing Attracts New Clients, Translators at Japan Patent Fair

Every year, more than 20,000 IP professionals gather at the Science Museum in the heart of Tokyo to learn about best practices in the world of intellectual property. The 2014 Patent Information Fair & Conference was held on Nov. 3-5 and is the Japan’s largest exhibition on the latest patent, product and technology information relating to intellectual property.

Megumi Hasegawa, MultiLing country manager for Japan, and Adam Bigelow, director, MultiLing's Asia Region, at the Japan Patent Fair & Conference.

Megumi Hasegawa, MultiLing country manager for Japan, and Adam Bigelow, director, MultiLing’s Asia Region, at the Japan Patent Fair & Conference.

This year marks MultiLing’s fourth year of participation in this energetic event. Our booth was visited by current clients and many potential clients — ranging from massive conglomerates to smaller, specialized patent offices, as well as highly qualified translators.

Adam Bigelow had the opportunity to share MultiLing best practices for IP translation services in the form of a presentation on Wednesday afternoon. The workshop was well attended by representatives from corporations, patent agencies and freelance translators.

Fundamental Technologies for IP Translation Services

Traditionally, original patent applications are sent out to regional law firms for “processing,” which includes translation as one of the filing services. Patent owners have little say in the cost and quality of patent translation services, and law firms in target jurisdictions generally don’t have enough translation business to invest in technology that enhances the translation process. By adopting a streamlined process for IP translations, where one company manages translation of all documents in all languages at the beginning of the patent application process, clients see many benefits, including the application of translation technologies that improve consistency of translation within and across languages.

Here is an infographic that highlights translation technologies used in a streamlined model—and don’t forget to download the eBook for more details about how these technologies can benefit your IP translation needs.

Download the Translation Technologies eBook.

Translation Technology Infographic

European Patent Validation Costs Too High for Patentee

Entrepreneurs and small start-ups are the incubators of bringing new ideas to market. But what happens when they feel priced out of gaining patents in markets where they hope to do business?

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 10.18.37 AMIn 2013, a small pharmaceutical company working with a law firm specializing in patents had successfully obtained European patent rights. The next step was to validate the patent in each country where the company wanted its rights preserved. The client initially felt it could afford to validate the patent in 10 countries (a handful of which required translations), but the initial quote by a foreign agent was significantly higher than the patentee believed it should invest. The client was concerned it would need to cut back on the number of countries in which it was seeking validation, consequently forgoing IP protection in some countries. The client wasn’t ready to give up, however, so it asked the law firm to find an alternative solution: an IP translation service that also offers validation services.

Enter MultiLing, an innovative leader in IP translations and other IP foreign patent filing services. In addition to patent translations, MultiLing works with many of the world’s largest patent filers – corporations and law firms – to make European Patent Office (EPO) filings, including validations, simple and accurate.

MultiLing was able to provide the law firm with a quote for patent translation and filing support that realized savings of more than 30 percent and allowed the patentee to select an additional 5 countries to file in, for protection in a total of 15 jurisdictions.

“With our streamlined model, boutique IP law firms, and their clients with only one or two patents a year, can realize the same economies of scale as we produce for our enterprise customers, who often file hundreds of patents annually,” said MultiLing’s vice president of global sales, Michael Degn. “In fact, by consolidating the work to interactive and specialized translation teams that then report to a single project owner, the validation process is much more consistent across all jurisdictions and much less costly than if isolated foreign agents worked on the project in multiple jurisdictions.”

Download MultiLing’s case study, Boutique IP Law Firm Realizes Big Client Benefits with MultiLing, to read more about how MultiLing’s people, process and technology provided savings that ensured two satisfied clients – the inventor and the law firm.

Can a 25 Year-Old Company Have an Entrepreneurial Spirit?

Lyle Ball, MultiLing COO talks to Kersten Kloss at Entrepreneur.com’s Inspiration Station, about being an entrepreneur and how the principles that spur growth in a start-up also can be applied to transforming a 25 year-old company. Kersten and Lyle discuss many other topics too, such as managing a globally diverse workforce and how technology can make communications more important.

Watch what Lyle has to say by playing the video below or at inspiration.entrepreneur.com.

Small Companies Can Get Big Patent Translation Benefits Too

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.27.18 PMMichael Degn, vice president of global sales at MultiLing, takes a look at how small clients can receive the same IP translation benefits available to multinational enterprises by working through law firms that specialize in intellectual property services and foreign patent filings. This article appeared in IPFrontline magazine. 

ipfrontlinelogoFiling for patent protection on both a domestic and international scale can be challenging and expensive, especially for a small company only seeking protection for one or two patents. It’s even more so when these companies also need their patent applications to be translated into one or more languages. A viable solution is to find an IP law firm that partners with a patent translation service that is intimately familiar with the target languages, industry and individual laws and cultures of the countries in which protection is sought.

As part of the patent translation and application process, IP law firms create an environment that is friendlier to small companies with only a handful of patents filed per year and limited budgets. In most cases, they are able to cooperate on a more intimate basis and accomplish the client’s goals in a timely and relatively more price conscience manner. To accomplish this, IP law firms will often outsource patent translation services to provide small companies with the service they need in the languages they require – and all at an affordable price. For example, Brinks Gilson & Lione, a well-known American boutique IP law firm, hired a patent translation service provider to help a client – a small U.S. pharmaceutical company – validate its patent in several European countries. This route eliminated the need for foreign agents in each individual country, which can be more costly and difficult to manage.

How does this work?

An IP law firm can leverage the resources and best practices of its patent translation service provider in more jurisdictions than possible with one foreign agent, in part enabling patent rights in more geographic cases for the same cost – or even less. In fact, using this route, Brinks’ client could afford to validate its patent in 15 countries, five more than it originally planned, with the overall project still realizing savings of more than 30 percent.

What to look for in an IP Translation Service?

For a small company with a limited number of patents filed domestically and likely even fewer internationally, the protection and quality of the patents they do file become a key factor in the company’s success. This presents a conundrum to most small companies: they need both high quality and lower prices for international translation services than what can usually be provided through individual foreign agents located separately in each country in which they plan to file.

When looking for an IP law firm, the small company will benefit by choosing a firm that works with a patent translation service employing a streamlined model, as well as translators who are highly qualified native linguists, scientists, engineers and legal specialists. The streamlined process centralizes translation and other foreign patent filing tasks to interactive teams (i.e. translators, foreign agents, editors) that report to project owners, instead of the traditional model, where dozens of disconnected worldwide teams are each managed locally, without coordinated project management or cross-team collaboration.

The firm should also use advanced translation technologies – including terminology management, collaborative cross-language workflow and technology-assisted translation to ensure consistent and quality translations for your specific industry. Pairing human translation with these technologies gives law firms – and their clients – increased patent filings and validation for their budget, decreased office actions, reduced invalidation risk, and faster time to grant. By leveraging the patent translation service’s resources and best practices, the law firm can help its clients file in more jurisdictions than possible with one foreign agent, passing on the savings – and efficiencies – to the client.

Click here to link to the original article at IPFrontline.com.