Patent Translate – a painstaking European Patent Office (EPO) project to make patent information freely translatable between multiple languages – has launched its first wave of services.
In a special Brussels press conference on 29 February, EPO president Benoît Battistelli was joined by Antoine Aubert, head of the Brussels Policy Team for Google: the organisation that has provided technological assistance to the EPO throughout the development of the system. The pair announced the completion of the scheme’s initial phase, which will provide translation of patent data from and to English for the languages French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Swedish. The initiative will cover around 90% of all patents issued in Europe.
A second phase of the scheme – covering all 28 languages of EPO Member States, plus Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian – is scheduled to launch by late 2014.
Commenting on the watershed moment, Battistelli said: ‘The launch is a landmark towards the removal of language barriers worldwide from patent documentation. Patent Translate enables businesses and innovators to identify relevant patent documents and to translate them in their own language. It also facilitates the implementation of the unitary patent, which includes an important chapter on translation [in its proposed text]. The new tool underlines the leading role of the EPO as largest provider of free patent data, and efficiently supports the objective of Google and the EPO of improving the accessibility of technical information – irrespective of the language of the user.’
Aubert – former legal counsel of the Interactive Software Federation of Europe – added: ‘The partnership between the EPO and Google is a great technical solution to the complex challenge of delivering better translations of, and better multilingual access to, patent information. We’re delighted to be offering the service in seven languages, via the EPO’s website and the Google Translate service, and we’ll be working to further optimise our system – and make the other 21 EPO languages available – in the coming years.’
The launch took place just three weeks after the EPO struck a deal with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) to bring it into the scheme’s second phase. Writing in his EPO blog, Battistelli stressed the global importance of Japanese innovators. ‘Last year,’ he said, ‘they filed nearly 47,000 European patent applications (12% more than in 2010), thus maintaining their second-place ranking, while increasing their share of the total (from 18% to 19%). Several Japanese firms, such as Panasonic, Sharp, NEC, Toyota and Mitsubishi regularly feature among our biggest applicants.’
JPO Commissioner Yoshiyuki Iwai, who co-signed the translation agreement, said: ‘Patent documents contain highly useful information on technology and can play an important role in dissemination of technology. In other words, they are very important – not just for patent offices and applicants, but for the public – and can contribute to global development of industry and economics.’
For previous NewLegal Review coverage of the EPO’s machine-translation scheme, click here and here
First stage of machine-translation scheme makes its debut, with Japan lined up to join the next phase