The EPO has long been a pioneer in providing free access to its patent-related data. Our public databases ─ containing more than 70 million documents and accessible free of charge on our website, www.epo.org ─ are one of, if not the largest and most relevant sources of information about state-of-the-art technology available anywhere in the world.
Last year we broke new ground in removing the language barriers in the way of patent information: the EPO teamed up with Google on a machine translation project which will facilitate multilingual access to our vast collection of patent documents.
The new system, Patent Translate, will cover the 28 languages of the EPO's member states, plus Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian and will be of huge benefit to companies, inventors and scientists across the globe. It will allow them to cut costs and better orient their R&D by accessing patents relevant to their inventions from around the world in their own language. This project has benefited greatly from close co-operation with the national patent offices of our member states and with the biggest patent offices all over the world, which have made their data available to the EPO. A first set of seven languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish) has already been made available, and the rest will follow by 2014.
In addition we worked hard to improve our search tools for patent examiners, which are used by professionals in more than 40 countries around the world.