Japanese-English machine translation for patents goes live

5 June 2013

The EPO and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) today announced the launch of the Japanese-English component of the EPO's automatic translation service Patent Translate. This means more than a million Japanese patent documents available via the EPO's global patent database Espacenet can now be instantly translated into English free-of-charge at the click of a mouse. This major step offers access to Japanese patents in the full-text version, while Japanese inventors can read European patents in their own language.

"The launch of the Japanese-English machine translation tool is a major step forward for patent information," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli, at a bilateral meeting of the two offices at the sidelines of the IP5 meeting in Cupertino, California. He continued: "Japanese is one of the leading languages of technology, and a lot of scientific knowledge, or what we call "prior art", resides in Japanese patents and patent documents, which are now freely available in English to engineers, inventors and scientists around the world. This will further strengthen the competitiveness of European businesses, who will now be able to better target their R&D work by searching Japanese patent documents, while further improving the substance of their patent applications. Patent offices, too, will be able to use the service in their daily work, which will positively impact the quality of the patenting process. The European economy as a whole will benefit from high quality patents."

JPO Commissioner, Hiroyuki Fukano said, "In terms of the number of patent applications being filed with the JPO and other offices globally, Japan ranks as one of the leading offices in the world, signifying that Japanese patent documents have a high importance. The European market is one of the most important ones for us. Up to now, the JPO has taken a wide variety of initiatives such as enabling the use of machine translation in order to break through the foreign-language barrier and support users when they file international applications and enter overseas markets. Through this new service, users will be able to refer to European patent documents in Japanese, bringing both benefit and value. With the advances being made in the globalisation of intellectual property, the language barrier has been a challenging and longstanding issue. Going forward, the JPO is determined make a solid contribution to providing significant benefits to users in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere around the world through global cooperation such as mutual collaboration between the EPO and the JPO."

With the addition of Japanese, Patent Translate now enables free on-the-fly-translation of patents from, and into, English for 15 languages including Chinese. Launched in February 2012 and integrated into the Espacenet database, Patent Translate was set up to enable machine translations of patents to be possible in the 28 official languages of the 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation, and also in the most important Asian languages by 2014. The service will then represent the world's most comprehensive multilingual platform for patent information. Espacenet already contains more than 80 million patent documents from around the world.

The addition of Japanese documents is the latest result of the close co-operation between the EPO and Japan, which goes back more than 30 years. In 1983, the EPO and JPO, together with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ─ the three largest offices at the time ─ established the Trilateral Cooperation to look into ways of solving common automation problems. Thirty years on, this cooperation has intensified, and now includes areas such as documentation, data standards and patent information.

Further information:

Patent Translate

Espacenet global patent database

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