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Patent translation

In the 21st century, ideas are your most important asset. Your products and services all start as an idea, and to stand out in a crowded market, you need something that rings uniquely with your target audience. Patents exist to protect your intellectual property, but what happens when someone abroad challenges your patent, or when you seek to expand into an international market? In this post, we’re going to examine patent translation so you know how to protect your intellectual property in a global marketplace.

Patents in a Global Marketplace

Patent translation is the act of protecting your intellectual property in other languages. The act of translating patents relies on three keys skillsets for the translator:

  • Knowledge of legal terminology
  • Industry-specific language
  • Descriptive language for use in describing patent illustrations

Each area requires additional expertise, making patent translations a specialized area for translation agencies.

The value of legal terminology

Patents are a legal document, just like contracts and a power of attorney. As such, specific language and terminology is expected to be used in the writing of a patent. For a translator, this means being familiar with legal terminology in both the source language and the target language, so as to avoid errors.

Industry-specific language

Every industry relies on its own lexicon; patent translation requires the right translator for the job, with the right knowledge base for the industry in question. If you require a patent translation for medical equipment, a translator specializing in automotive translations would be unlikely to be of assistance. The combination of legal and industry terminology makes it all a difficult task, with pressure to ensure a translation is accurate, does not omit content, and does not paraphrase where a specific phrase is required.

Descriptive language requirements

Along with the translation of legal and industry text, a patent translation requires close attention to be paid to the descriptions of illustrations within a patent. Included to demonstrate usage and to identify the purpose of the object being patented, the illustration is a vital element of a patent. As descriptive language is not otherwise commonly used alongside legal terminology, its use is a specialization within patent translation. The accurate translation of the illustration description ensures the protection of the patent in international markets where the patent is challenged.

The need for a professional patent translation

Patent translation is vital for any business going global. The threats against a business as a result of a poor translation – or a complete lack thereof – are many. The benefits include:

Protection against idea theft. Certain countries, and certain industries, are more prone to idea theft than others, and a preemptive translation can help ensure that your idea – your most valuable asset – is safe as you expand internationally, or wish to protect yourself against companies that do business globally.
Security against competition from similar products. Translations also help to ensure that similar products will struggle in the marketplace, particularly where your unique selling point is a patented element.
Prevention of the devaluation of your patent. By protecting your patent internationally through translation, you protect the value of your patent. Licencing of a patented product can be lucrative, and the tighter the constraints around its use are, the more lucrative a patent can be.
Prevention of production delays. Legitimate challenges to a patent can cause delays in the manufacturing process. The more airtight a patent is, the fewer delays you will experience. This kind of specialist translation ensures international disputes are less likely to affect your production, even that at a domestic level.

The audience for patent translation 

A patent has two primary audiences:

  • The people filing a patent
  • Those involved in a legal dispute

For the purposes of ease of filing, a patent and its translation should avoid the use of jargon. While industry-specific language is required in the accurate description of a patent, buzzwords and other uses of obscure language can lead to a misfiling of the patent.

When it comes to a legal dispute, particularly where a patent is challenged in a market where the primary language its own, a patent translation would typically only be required for the areas of the patent under scrutiny. Relying on a professional translator for the job provides some protection of your assets in a legal case, as they will be equipped with the legal and industry-specific language required, and understands how best to translate the patent into the target language.

How can we help?

We work across multiple languages and in many industries. Get in touch for a quote on a patent translation to help secure your ideas in an increasingly global marketplace.

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