Patent translate service - FAQ

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What is Patent Translate?

Patent Translate is a machine translation service specifically "trained" to handle elaborate patent vocabulary and grammar. It is now available in Espacenet and the European publication server, as well as via Google Translate.

It takes a statistical approach, comparing the source document sentence by sentence to millions of patent documents previously translated by humans. The final translation profits from this "previous learning" by the translation engine.

Espacenet

European Publication Server

Google Translate


How was Patent Translate optimised for patents?

In co-operation with the national patent offices in its member states and with other key partner offices, the EPO has provided Google with millions of official, human-translated patent documents. These were used to train the translation engine to handle technical subject-matter and the specific style and format used for patent documents. Every year, millions of documents are added to the EPO's databases. These new documents too are fed into the system, continually improving the engine.


What languages are available?

Patent Translate  is now complete – one year ahead of schedule – offering on-the-fly-translation of patent documents for 28 official languages of the EPO's 38 member states, plus Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian. Since the service’s launch in February 2012, languages have been added gradually, and its completion had originally been foreseen for the end of 2014. Here is an overview of key developments: :

  • February 2012: initial launch of Patent Translate with translation between English and French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Swedish, covering approximately 90% of all patents issued in Europe.
  • October 2012: launch of the translations between English and Danish, Dutch, Greek, Finnish, Hungarian, Norwegian and Polish.
  • December 2012: launch of the translation between English and Chinese.
  • June 2013: launch of the translation between English and Japanese as well as Bulgarian, Czech, Icelandic, Slovak, Slovenian, Romanian.
  • September 2013: launch of the translation between English and Russian
  • December 2013: language coverage completed, with the launch of the translation between English and Korean, plus the eight remaining languages (Albanian, Croatian, Estonian, Macedonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian and Turkish); launch of new language pairs for French and German, making possible translation from and into French and German for 27 languages: Albanian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian and Turkish.

What can I use it for?

The machine translation should give you the gist of any patent or patent-related document, and help you to determine whether it is relevant. You might decide on this basis whether you need to invest in a human translation of the document.

Please note that the engine cannot provide legally binding translations.


Who can see information about requested translations?

We know that confidentiality is crucial for users of information provided by the EPO, so our agreement with Google ensures that nobody has access to information about your searches or translations.


What does the future hold for Patent Translate?

Patent Translate was completed in December 2013, one year ahead of schedule, to cover 32 languages: all 28 languages of the EPO's member states plus Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian. This means that 2014 can be used to improve the quality of the service.

Every year, millions of documents are added to the EPO's databases. These new documents will also be fed into the system, continually improving the engine.


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