New patent translation facility at European Patent Office

Following an announcement made last year, the European Patent Office (EPO) has today begun to roll out its improved patent translation service.

As part of a joint development, the EPO has provided Google with its extensive record of human translated patent documents, which Google has used to improve its machine translation service to handle the specialist technical vocabulary and legal grammar of patent publications. As further documents are added to the database, further iterative improvements to the translation service are expected.

Access to this service can be obtained either via any Espacenet portal or the EPO Publication Server. The service is simple to use. First, find a patent document using the preferred method, choose the part of the patent to be translated (abstract, description or claims) and press the patent translate button. Once the translation has been displayed, moving the mouse over the translated text will allow the user to see the original text sentence by sentence.

Currently able to provide translations between English and German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish, the intent is to enable this service to provide translations between all 28 languages of the EPO member states by 2014. Beyond this, to address the 60% of patent documentation issuing outside of these EPO countries, the EPO has announced its intention to provide the machine translation service for other languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian.

The lowering of language barriers in understanding the disclosures of patent documents brought about by this development is welcomed.