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Tuesday, 30th November 2010

Google and European Patent Office Announce Plans to Collaborate on Patent Translation

According to a European Patent Office (EPO) announcement a "memorandum of understanding" has been signed by Google and the EPO.

1. EPO will use Google's machine translation technology to translate patents into the languages of the 38 countries that it serves.

2. [The EPO] will provide Google with access to its translated patents, enabling Google to optimise its machine translation technology. Google technology will be used to translate patents originating in Europe as well as patents originating in other regions of the world and enjoying protection in Europe.


The partnership with Google to create machine translation tools for patents will help inventors, engineers and R+D teams to retrieve relevant documents efficiently - in their own language - from our wealth of published patent information.

For Google, the collaboration offers a major opportunity to improve its translation service. The EPO will offer access to around 1.5 million documents, and each year this number grows by more than 50 000 new patent grants. The partnership also covers Asian languages.

Read the Complete Announcement

While mechanical translation continues to improve, it's still not at the level of what a professional translator can provide especially when it comes to the legalese and technical language used in a patent. It will be interesting to see what disclaimers are included with each mechanically translated document. Also, will the authors of a patent be able to review the mechanically generated document before it becomes available via the EPO database? Can an author ask for language to be changed? Will the translated patent database be available at no charge or as a part of a fee-based service?

Finally, no word as to when mechanically translated patents will become available. We will to try and find out some additional details and will report back.

Source: European Patent Office
Hat Tip and Thanks: Barry Schwartz at SEL


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