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Patent translations  

When legally, technically and linguistically experienced jack-of-all-trades apply their skills 

Among the “Services & Solutions” presented on our website you will find, among many others, the “Patent Translations” section. What exactly are patent translations, though? In this article, we address this question and explain in more detail what a patent is, why and for what purposes a translation is required in this respect, and the qualifications a patent translator has to have. 

What is a patent? 

A patent is a temporary industrial property right for an invention that entitles its owner to prohibit others from using the invention. An invention is only patented if it fulfills certain criteria. It is made publicly available when the patent is granted, so that other inventors can benefit from the knowledge. In addition to patents, utility models, trademarks and registered designs are also considered industrial property rights, whereas copyright is not, as it serves the protection of personal intellectual creations that originate more from the artistic than the industrial sphere. The concept of “intellectual property” applies to both copyright and industrial property rights. While in the German-speaking world, for example, the term “patent” is only used for a protective right to a purely technical invention, in the English-speaking world, UK or US law distinguishes between a “utility patent”, the protective right to a technical invention, and the protective right to forms and prototypes, i.e. to design, which is known as a “design patent”.  

What criteria is a patentable invention required to fulfill? 

Prior to the registration, the Patent and Trademark Office assesses the invention according to the following criteria: 

  • The product is new and the result of inventive step. 
  • It can be used commercially. 
  • It works properly. 

In this respect, new means that the product will not become known to a wider public until it is patented, and inventive step is defined internationally as extending beyond the typical level of knowledge in the field. This means that even for an expert person, the invention is not obvious or easy to replicate, through the modification or combination of existing products, for example, as that would mean that the idea is not sufficiently innovative to justify a patent. 

What is meant by a patent translation? 

It entails a translation of documents that are filed during the patent application procedure or issued by the patent office. In addition to other documents, such as official notices or correspondence with patent attorneys, it also includes what is known as the patent specification. The patent specification is published for domestic and European patents that have been granted by the respective patent office, and contains the patent claims, a description of the invention and the prior state of the art, as well as drawings and diagrams on the basis of which the patent was granted. It also contains information on the patent owner, the inventor, background explanations and the patent classification. This is used to classify patent documents on the basis of the technical facts that are described in them.  

When and why is a patent translation required? 

A patent is only valid in the country for which it was granted. Therefore, patents granted by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) are only valid for the Federal Republic of Germany. This means that to ensure the invention is protected in other countries as well, a patent application with a patent specification in the respective national language must be filed in each of those countries. If, for example, a patent right is sought in Greece, the requisite documents must then be translated into Greek by a patent translator.  

Why do we call our patent translators “jack-of-all-trades”? 

Essentially, patent translators have the same qualifications as other technical translators, as they have a flawless command of the technical terminology in both the foreign and the native language, and are distinguished by several years of experience and linguistic sensitivity. 

What makes them so special, then? 
That is the patent documents themselves. Not only does a patent application require several years of trials, tests and in-depth research, and the translation of these technical texts, which are both legal and technical, only becomes necessary when the patent is about to be granted; above all else, the texts themselves are highly sophisticated descriptions which include product innovations and processing technologies from a wide range of technical fields. Whether it is mechanical engineering, chemistry, medical technology or measurement and control technology – this is where the specialist knowledge of the patent translator is required, without which it would be impossible for them to comprehend the state of the art or understand the technology behind an invention in such a way that they succeed in finding the most appropriate translation for each term. However, it isn’t the extensive knowledge of the respective technical discipline that makes a qualified patent translator a jack-of-all-trades. Their in-depth knowledge of the legal field and their mastery of the correct terminology in intellectual property law are equally important. Of course, given the variety of technical fields, no translator is able to translate all kinds of inventions, which means they usually concentrate on a specific technical field in which they deepen their knowledge. However, because the technology is constantly evolving, even an experienced patent translator will not infrequently come across inventions, the technical concept of which they are not yet familiar with. To rise to this challenge and use the appropriate terminology, the translator must demonstrate their research skills as well as their ability to assess the reliability of the information. 

Which documents find their way to a patent translator? 

Patent specifications 

As referred to above, the patent specification contains a description of the invention, the technical background, drawings, and above all else, the patent claims, which define the scope of the invention and must be translated with particular precision to secure the same scope of protection for the rights to the patent in each country. 

Decisions from the Patent Office 

Before the patent is granted, the patent application is examined by a patent examiner. If the patent examiner finds reasons as to why an application fails to fulfill the requirements for a patent, they inform the applicant of the reasons in a decision, or an assessment report. These decisions are issued in the language of the country in which the patent application was filed. Translations are therefore necessary to ensure that foreign applicants can respond to the decision with an appropriate reply. 

Documents with amendments, correspondence 

It is not uncommon for amendments to the patent specification to have to be translated. These are filed for the purposes of revising a particular part of the patent specification, correcting errors, or responding to the reasons stated in an assessment report. In many cases, it is also necessary to translate the correspondence of the patent attorneys.  

We rely exclusively on our legally and technically adept patent translators, who have substantial experience in the areas of the patent-granting procedures, the patent systems and the patent information, to ensure both the linguistic and stylistic accuracy of our patent translations and to make certain that their content is correct. We will be pleased to convince you of our services in this field by creating a text for you that ensures the validity of the patent and the protection of your idea. 

Please talk to us

We look forward to being able to assist you. 

Patent translation by t'works