EPO and SIPO sign agreement on Chinese-English machine translation for patents

29 November 2011

EPO-SIPO annual bilateral co-operation meeting

In an unprecedented move to eliminate linguistic barriers in public access to patent information, the EPO and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO) at their annual bilateral co-operation meeting held in Chongqing, signed an agreement which will have a striking impact for the improvement of the global patent system and the dissemination of technological information in the world.

Both offices agreed to work together to assure that by next year automatic Chinese-English machine translation tools for patents are available to the public. The service will be free of charge and easily accessible through Internet. With this agreement new possibilities are offered to innovators and users of the patent system to get access to a huge part of technological information hidden nowadays due to the language barrier.

EPO President Benoît Battistelli and SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu

"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. "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 significantly grown over the past years. With the advent of a 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. Rendering these documents publicly accessible by offering automated on-the-fly translations helps innovators to better adjust their R&D and investment strategies. Moreover, the public availability of documentation in Chinese and English will 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.

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