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Patents: Where Language Services Are Crucial

How necessary is the use of a professional language service provider for translating your patent documentation? We’ve all seen those machine patent translators online, haven’t we - surely they’re good enough these days?

Yet, translating anything into a foreign language, and ensuring it reads as authentically as it did in the source language is no mean feat. This is especially so when it needs to be legally and scientifically watertight, which is almost always the case with patent documentation. There is no room for ambiguity - highly technical content only complicates the matter.

We invite you for a little look behind the scenes at how our expert translators make it happen, and why they’re crucial to your intellectual property portfolio…

What types of patent translation are there?

For the uninitiated, the translation of patent documentation generally falls under two categories.

The first is the translation of a patent specification for filing at a patent office. These are needed to fulfil legal obligations; any invention and its uses need to be accurately communicated in the target language.

Alexika’s patent translation services are also employed by patent attorneys to defend or attack a patent’s newness and inventiveness. The translation of these litigation documents is the second key category of patent translation.



Now we don’t like to blow our own trumpets too much, but our patent translators are seriously clever people.

Patent translation requires an unbelievable breadth and depth of scientific knowledge, as well as top-notch professional translation skills. Translating patent documentation is certainly not a DIY job for the vast majority of people, or even for a translation agency without the right experience.

Patents can be needed on technical fields spanning electronics, telecoms, automotive engineering… almost anything. With such a broad range of specialisms and technologies, we say our patent translators speak a whole new language by itself: Patentese.

Another aspect of Patentese is sentence structure: the construction of sentences depending on the technical field in question can vary immensely, and demand an intricate knowledge of its topic.

As well as the lingo, you need the skills.

A translated patent must read as if it was written in the target language. So, as well as being masters of the terminology, someone translating patent documentation must have the professional language skills required to work seamlessly from the source language into the target language.

One key to achieving this is using a patent translator who translates only into his or her mother tongue. By ensuring your translator’s native language is the target language, you minimise the chance that linguistic intricacies of the translated text are misconstrued - crucial, especially in a legal and technical context.

Filing in a foreign land...

To get your invention patented, you need to fulfil a series of legal obligations to prove its uniqueness and applicability. Presumably, the Wrong Trousers didn’t just patent themselves - so the same rules also applied to everyone’s favourite inventor in Wallace and Gromit.

A patent can be granted, for example in the UK, only when ‘someone has created something that is inventive, new and useful’. Communicating and proving this can be tricky enough in your own country, let alone for a foreign patent office. Each jurisdiction has its own legal procedure for patent specifications.

It goes without saying that your average Joe translator may not appreciate these country-specific regulations - not everyone has what it takes to get through the legal hoops of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, for example.

If a filed patent is badly translated, it can cause all sorts of stalling and problems further down the line. Not to mention that the incorrect filing of patents in one country can also impact on a patent in another country, potentially rendering it invalid.

A good patent translation should be able to withstand litigation in a foreign jurisdiction. Ensuring it has this protection will save you time and money in the long-term - this can only be guaranteed by partnering up with a translation provider who truly know their stuff about the legal systems of the world.


On the attack… or defence.

Our patent translators often translate legal arguments surrounding whether something does or does not constitute a patent. Many clients demanding this service are patent attorneys - these delightful fellows can often be found around Munich, where the European Patent Office is located.

Such arguments, as you can imagine, are full of legal complexity and nuance. Unless you practice Patentese, the risks of not partnering with a language service provider far outweigh the financial costs. A poorly translated text won’t do your litigation documentation any favours.

It’s the safest bet.

Behind the scenes at Alexika, you’ll find that all our patent translators work only into their mother tongue - this ensures that any translated patent documentation reads completely authentically in the target language, which, as mentioned, is crucial for its integrity in the face of legal challenge, as well as to ensure it files properly.

Our patent translators follow a strict process in order to ensure this consistency and high-quality, working to ISO accredited industry standards. Patent documentation translation certainly isn’t a DIY translation job, regardless of how proficient you are in the target language, or knowledgeable of patent laws you are in your own jurisdiction.

Save yourself time, stress, money and hassle down the line by choosing a language service provider with the right experience, accreditations and processes. Why take the risk with your valuable patent translation portfolio?

We like to think that we know our stuff about patent translation - don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your brief!