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EPO & SIPO agree on Chinese-English machine translation for patents

Major breakthrough in enhancement of the global patent system

The European Patent Office and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China have signed an agreement which will have a striking impact in the improvement of the global patent system and the dissemination of technological information in the world. This is an unprecedented move to eliminate linguistic barriers in public access to patent information. The agreement took place at their annual bilateral co-operation meeting held in Chongqing. This service will be free of charge and easily accessible through Internet.Logo of European Patent Office

Both patent offices agreed to work together to assure that by 2012,  automatic Chinese-English machine translation tools for patents will be available to the public. New possibilities are offered to innovators and users of the patent system with this agreement. It will provide access to a huge part of technological information which remains hidden nowadays due to language barriers.

“The agreement breaks new ground in the relationship between both regions in that it will bring the wealth of technology contained in patents to the fingertips of innovators on both sides, removing language as a delimiting factor,” said EPO President Benoît Battistelli (quoted from EPO’s official website). “The information function of patents cannot be rated high enough. Innovation is a global market, and by making their respective collections of patent documents accessible to researchers, scientists and inventors in Chinese and English, the EPO and the SIPO significantly contribute to strengthening the innovation process both in their regions and at worldwide level. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as research institutions, stand to benefit from this improved access to information on new technologies.”

The importance of patent information has grown significantly in the past years. With the advent of a true global technology market, the number of patent applications filed worldwide is growing annually and reached some 1,8 million filings in 2010, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. Many of these applications originate from China and Europe, or take legal effect in these regions. Monitoring technical developments disclosed in patents is vital for innovating businesses in order to stay competitive.

Furthermore, rendering these documents accessible to the public for general information by offering automated on-the-fly translations can only help innovators to better adjust their R&D and also their investment strategies.

Public availability of documentation in Chinese and English will also enhance the efficiency of dissemination of information on new technologies disclosed in both regions. Furthermore, it will improve the quality of the patent granting process since Chinese prior art will be better considered globally.