You’ve likely invested thousands—or even millions—of dollars into research and development (R&D) for your new product. So, you know what’s at stake when protecting your investment with a patent. However, the patent process is no easy feat.
Statistically, the odds are only slightly in your favor. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants only about 52% of applications every year. While there are numerous reasons for patent denials, simple technical errors in terminology or phrasing are among the most common. When translating content, the risk of these errors heightens exponentially. Good intellectual property translation is your first line of defense in ensuring a successful process.
Common Barriers to Intellectual Property Translation
IP law is often considered one of the most complicated sectors of the legal industry due to varying regulations and requirements based on product type, audience, and novelty. With this type of legal translation, you’ll typically see issues with:
- Security: Protection of intellectual property is vital. However, translation can create some significant security holes. As files are moved back and forth, stored in different locations, and emailed to various contacts, they could easily make their way into the wrong hands.
- Accuracy: A thorough, verbal description of your product is necessary to prove its novelty. However, a simple mistake in terminology could create the impression that the product is not unique and, as a result, not patentable. Accuracy is also important in defending your patent. If a linguist replaces specific details with ambiguous language, you may not be able to prove infringement on your original design because the documentation lacked sufficient detail to cover it.
- Information silos: Collaboration among product managers, engineers, and marketers is vital to ensure consistency across all technical documentation. However, in any considerably sized organization, there will typically be information silos where critical details go in one department’s repository and not another’s. This segmentation can unintentionally create mistakes when managing the patent application in multiple languages.
- Timing: Patents must go through several stages before they’re approved. Generally, those stages include filing, first action, examination, rejection or acceptance, appeal, and issue. If the applicant does not adhere to every step’s strict timelines, they must start the application process all over again. The ability to quickly translate material for all stages is critical to a successful application.
The patent translation process is complicated enough without additional translation needs. If you do come across the need to translate documents, it’s easier to choose an end-to-end solution that bypasses these issues.
What to Look for in IP Translation Services
While a company may bill itself as an IP translation service, it is likely not truly prepared to manage everything involved. The most effective partner will offer:
- A central, secure workspace: To keep patentable material safe and allow for collaboration between departments during translation, a central workflow that permits cross-departmental visibility is vital. Ideally, it will also limit the ability to download documents to prevent content from moving outside the system. By keeping all requests in a central, encrypted location, there is less chance of a breach, and departments can ensure consistency across all documentation.
- A robust translation memory: In your IP translation, you need the ability to control the terms used and their interpretation within the text. Intuitive translation memory can learn specific terms related to the work. Then, as the linguist works, they will receive suggestions based on that approved terminology. This tool preserves consistency across all file sets.
- AI-enabled linguist recruiting: Finding a translator who can understand both the patent process and the target language can be time-consuming—unless you work with a platform powered by high-quality translators. These platforms will use artificial intelligence and prior success scores from other jobs to find the right linguists for a project, cutting recruitment time in half while preserving accuracy.
- A transparent workflow: Simultaneously managing multiple tasks in IP translation can quickly get out of hand. Using a platform with a clear, detailed workflow where one task moves into the next seamlessly will allow you to more easily keep track of all steps in the process. You can better gauge when documentation is ready for submission and plan around the various deadlines.
Given the significant expenses typically incurred during the R&D phase of creating a new product, adequate IP translation services should offer a robust framework to protect your investment. You don’t want to lose all your work because of a documentation technicality that keeps you from completing the patent process. Using a collaborative, intuitive, and secure platform is the best possible way to manage the entire translation project from beginning to end.
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