What is a Patent Translation?

Created: Mar 25, 2024 | Updated: Mar 25, 2024

Your brilliant inventions aren’t just for you; they should be shared with the rest of the world. However, what happens when someone tries to steal your genius idea and pose as if it were theirs?  You go to war and take measures to protect your intellectual property. It is even better if you take these measures before your ideas are made public. This is what brings us to the conversation about patents. In trying to protect your intellectual property, you may need to ensure that your protective measures can hold water in other parts of the world apart from where you stay, at this point, it would become more obvious that not everyone speaks or understands your language. Patent translations are the heroes that build the bridge between your inventions and the world. 

To start with, a patent is a special permission given to someone who invents something new, allowing them to be the only one who can make, use, or sell their invention for a certain period. It's a way to protect the inventor's ideas and hard work, ensuring that no one else can copy their invention without permission. 

If all of this sounds interesting already, keep reading to find out more about patents, their translation, why they are so important and how you can get an affordable translation service to help protect your genius ideas. 

What is a Patent Translation?

Patent translations are a specialised field of translation focused on converting patents from one language to another. These documents contain technical, legal, and specific industry terms related to inventions and how they work. It's very important for applying for patents in different countries, protecting patent rights all over the world, and for businesses that want to go global with their inventions.

Why Do We Need Them?

Patents are like a protective shield for your creations. Imagine you've just come up with a groundbreaking invention, something you believe could be a worldwide hit. You want to protect this invention to make sure nobody else can claim it as their own in any country. The problem is, that each country has its language and rules about patents. 

So, if you're in the U.S. and want protection in Japan, you can't just submit your English patent application there. It needs to be in Japanese. This is where patent translations come in. They give your genius a passport to travel and be understood anywhere they go. You may not always need to translate your patent documents. If your patent documents are in French, for example, you will not need to translate them if you are filing for protection in other French-speaking countries like Cameroon.  

Patent documentation includes all the paperwork and files that describe your invention in detail, explaining how it works, what it does, and why it's different from what's already out there. This includes the patent application itself, drawings and diagrams to illustrate the invention, detailed descriptions, and legal claims that specify what aspects of the invention are protected by the patent. It's a comprehensive package that serves as the official record of the invention and is important for securing patent rights. A patent translation makes sure your invention’s voice is heard clearly and accurately in any language by ensuring that all these documents are correctly translated and that your work is protected and respected everywhere.

Types of Patent Translations

There are several types of patent translations, each serving a different purpose depending on your needs and the stage of your patent application or enforcement process. These include:

  1. Patent Application Translations: This category is all about crossing the initial hurdle of submitting your patent application in a foreign country. When you're applying for a patent in a country that does not speak the language your patent is originally in, you'll need to translate your entire application. This includes all the technical specifications, claims, abstracts, drawings and explanations about how it works, and what makes it unique. The goal here is to make sure the patent office and local experts can fully understand your invention. This is essential for the patent to be granted.
  2. Patent Litigation Translations: If you find yourself defending your patent rights in court or challenging someone else's patent in a foreign country, you'll need translations of legal documents, evidence, and patents into the local language. These translations must be extremely accurate since they are used in legal arguments and decisions. In patent litigation, the accuracy of translations can directly affect the outcome of the case. Misinterpretations or errors in translating technical descriptions, legal arguments, or evidence can lead to unfavourable legal decisions.
  3. Patent Filing Translations: Similar to application translations, these are needed when you file a patent application. However, filing translations usually do not need the full details of the invention, depending on the country's initial submission requirements. A patent translated for filing will be used as your official record in the patent application process. They are meant to be viewed by legal professionals, patent officials, and patent licensees, who will examine your application. They should be translated clearly in simple terms while still conveying the meaning of your invention.
  4. Informational or Informal Patent Translations: These are more about understanding the content of a foreign patent rather than official submissions or legal proceedings. Companies use these translations to keep an eye on competitors or to check for potential patent infringements. This type of translation is used to learn the contents of patents that have already been filed. They just will not have the same level of precision as legal documents although they should be as close to the original legal document as possible. 
  5. Patent Validation Translations: In the case of European patents, after it is granted, it needs to be validated in each member state where you are seeking protection. This involves translating the patent into the official languages of those countries. Under Article 65(1) of the European Patent Convention, if a European patent is not in one of the official languages of a contracting state, that state can require a translation of the patent to be supplied to its industrial property office. This requirement ensures that the patent document is accessible and enforceable within that country's legal system.

    The specifics of the translation requirements can vary significantly between countries. For instance:
  • In countries like Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, and the United Kingdom, no translation of the patent document is needed.
  • Other countries require the full text of the patent to be translated into their official languages, such as Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey.
  • Some nations only require translations of the patent claims, which outline the scope of the invention's protection. These countries include Denmark, Finland, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Montenegro, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Slovenia.
  • Morocco, although not a European country, has a validation agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) and requires the claims to be translated into French or Arabic for validation.

Why Do I Need a Patent Translation Service?

Patent documents are tricky and are filled with complex legal terms and specific technical language. Professional translation services specialising in patents are not just skilled in multiple languages; they understand the legal and technical details found in patents. Their expertise ensures that the translated document correctly reflects the original's intent and reduces the risk of misinterpretation.

As we said earlier, each country has its own set of rules and regulations regarding patent applications. A professional service knows these requirements inside out, ensuring that your translation is in line with the patent laws of the country where you're applying for protection. 

Furthermore, a poorly translated patent application can lead to its rejection, legal disputes, or even the invalidation of the patent. The stakes are high, as any ambiguity or error could be exploited by competitors or result in the loss of patent rights. Professional translation services minimise these risks, offering peace of mind that your intellectual property is protected.

How Much Does it Cost to Translate a Patent?

Patent translation costs vary significantly across industries due to the specialised technical competency required and the detailed language of patents. A standard patent application might be around 9,400 words, translating to almost a week's work for a professional translator, not including additional quality assurance steps. The cost also depends on the technical field of the patent, with biotechnology and pharmaceutical applications often being the longest and translated into the most languages, leading to higher costs. Translation rates can differ based on the language pair and the economy of the target country. Translations into languages like Japanese and Swedish are typically more expensive than translations into Spanish or Chinese. 

Foreign patent firms offer translation services although they can be extremely expensive, reaching up to double the cost of working with a certified translation service. Opting for a certified translation service is another way to get patent translations that are affordable and yet accurate. Certified translation services usually calculate their rates in two different ways:

- Per Word or Page: Most translators charge based on the number of words or pages they have to translate. The more words or pages you have, the higher the cost. Per word, translations range between $0.05 - $0.50 and per page translations range from $20 - $130. At Translayte, we pride ourselves on offering competitive rates at $27.50 per page and $0.05 per word, ensuring affordability without compromising on quality.

- By the Hour: Some translators charge by the hour. This is usually done when the task demands a lot of time or the document needs special attention like with legal translations. Hourly rates range between $15 - $150.


What Is the Importance of a Patent Translation?

A patent translation is important because it ensures your inventions are accurately understood and legally protected in countries with different languages from where the patent was originally filed. This process is necessary to make your patent valid globally.

How Do you Translate a Patent?

To translate a patent, you need to find a professional translation service like Translayte. Just visit their website, upload your documents and specify the kind of translation you need. You will receive your translation in the stipulated time. 

How Much Does it Cost to Translate a Patent?

Translations are usually charged in two different ways; per page, per word or by the hour. Per word, translations range between $0.05 - $0.50 and per page translations range from $20 - $130. Hourly rates range between $15 - $150. At Translayte, we pride ourselves on offering competitive rates at $27.50 per page and $0.05 per word, ensuring affordability without compromising on quality.

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