The European Patent Office (the EPO) has collaborated with Google to launch a new machine translation service: Patent Translate. Patent Translate provides free translations of patent documents to and from English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Swedish. These seven languages cover approximately 90% of all patents issued in Europe.
This service makes use of Google's Translate technology, which has been "trained" specifically to handle patent vocabulary and grammar through the analysis of several hundred thousand high quality translations of patent documents, provided by the EPO.
It is often necessary to obtain translations of patent documents during the prosecution of a patent application or during post-grant proceedings. This can be costly, particularly when translations of numerous documents are required. In addition to this, the degree to which a document is relevant is often not clear until after a translation has been obtained, potentially leading to unnecessary time delays and expenditure.
While the quality of the machine translation does not match that of a translation carried out by a professional, the translations produced through this service appear to be comprehensible and certainly enable the main points of a document to be elucidated. The new service therefore seems to fill a much felt need; enabling applicants to quickly obtain rough translations of potentially relevant documents, which can then be later translated by a professional translator if it appears necessary.
This service is set to expand further and, by the end of 2014, it should be possible to obtain translations of patents from and into all 28 languages of the EPO member states, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian.
2 March 2012