Friday, July 09, 2010

"Teutonic Coziness" : New EU Patent Translation Risks for Attorneys? EU Commission Proposes Machine viz. Computer Automatic Translation for Pan-European Patents

Greater Patent Translation Risks in the future in the European Union?

As reported by in Commission proposes auto-translation for pan-EU patents | Pinsent Masons LLP, the EU Commission wants to reduce costs by computer translation of patents (we present the full text of the respective EU Press Release further below).

What you see here is the present writer guffawing, i.e. laughing out loud boisterously.

Even your average bilingual HUMAN without special training has great difficulty in translating patents, not even to think of computer translation, which raises further formidable problems. Whatever the computer might produce, humans will have to edit and correct it, which can take more time for a bad translation than translating the material from scratch.

Machine translation has improved greatly for certain kinds of texts in recent years, but patents are by their very nature not very susceptible to machine translation. It is often hard enough to understand the language garble of the originals. When that garble is translated by machines, you often get nonsense.

Here is a page that refers to automatic patent translation from Japanese to English.
Take a look at the example given there as an automatic translation result. Easy, right?
Useful for patent searches or patent litigation? Hardly.

The most famous example of how a bad translation can affect the meaning of the text is a German translation of a text for installation of Japanese electric Christmas tree lights, which we have plugged into the Bing and Google translators to see what comes out "automatically" in English. First, the German version:

"Elektrische Weihnachtskerzen GWK 9091 aus Japan ...

Mit sensazionell Modell GWK 9091 Sie bekomen nicht teutonische Gemutlichkeit fuer trautes Heim nur, auch Erfolg als moderner Mensch bei anderes Geschleckt nach Weihnachtsganz aufgegessen und laenger, weil Batterie viel Zeit gut lange. Zu erreischen Gluckseligkeit unter finstrem Tann, ganz einfach Handbedienung von GWK 9091: 1. Auspack und freu. 2. Slippel A kaum abbiegen und verklappen in Gegenstippel B fuer Illumination von GWK 9091. 3. Mit Klamer C in Sacco oder Jacke von Lebenspartner einfraesen und laecheln fuer Erfolg mit GWK 9091. 4. Fuer eigens Weihnachtsfeierung GWK 9091 setzen auf Tisch. 5. Fuer kaput oder Batterie mehr zu Gemutlichkeit beschweren an: wir, Bismarckstrasse 4. Fuer neue Batterie alt Batterie zurueck fuer Sauberwelt in deutscher Wald."

Here is the Bing translation of that:

""Electric Christmas candles BG 9091 from Japan... with sensazionell model BG 9091 you get not Teutonic Gemutlichkeit for home sweet home only success as modern man with other Geschleckt eaten after Christmas all and longer because battery good long time." To erreischen greeting waldseligkeit bliss under finstrem Tann, easy manual operation of GWK 9091: 1. Auspack and happy. 2. Slippel A hardly turn and is in himself separate halting B for illumination of GWK 9091. 3. Klamer C Sacco or jacket partner a milling and smile for success with BG 9091. 4. Specially Christmas Feierung BG 9091 put on table. 5. For broken or battery about Gemutlichkeit complain to: we Bismarckstrasse 4. "Old for new battery battery back for clean world in German forest." "

Then the Google translation of that same German:

""Electric Christmas candles GWK 9091 from Japan ...
With sensazionell model GWK 9091 Do not bekomen Teutonic coziness cozy home for only success also as a modern man in other licked by Weihnachtsganz eaten and longer, because a lot of battery time, good time. To erreischen bliss under dark Tann, simply hand control of GWK 9091: 1 Freu and unpacking. 2nd Slippel A little turn and dump in Gegenstippel B for illumination of GWK 9091st 3rd With Klamer C Sacco or jacket and smile for life partner smash success with GWK 9091st 4th For specially Weihnachtsfeierung GWK 9091 bet on the table. 5th For battery kaput or more coziness to complain: we, 4th Street Bismarck For new battery old battery back for Sauber world in German forest. "

Here is the EU Press Release text:

"Patents: Commission proposes translation arrangements for future EU Patent

A proposal on translation arrangements for a future EU Patent, the final element needed for a single EU Patent to become a reality, has been presented today by the European Commission. Today, obtaining a patent in Europe costs ten times more than one in the US. This situation discourages research, development and innovation, and undermines Europe's competitiveness. That is why Europe needs to act so that innovators can protect their inventions at an affordable cost with a single patent covering the entire EU territory with minimum translation costs and without needing to validate that patent at a national level as they currently have to do. The new proposal builds on the successful three language system at the European Patent Office (EPO) and, if adopted, would drastically reduce existing translation costs. 

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "For Europe to be competitive globally, we need to encourage innovation. That's not the case today – it is far too expensive and complicated to obtain a patent. An EU Patent equally valid in all EU countries, is crucial to stimulate research and development and will drive future growth. Today's proposal – the last element of the patent reform package - is good news for innovators across Europe, in particular small businesses. I now hope that Member States will act quickly to ensure the EU patent becomes a reality. I am committed to working closely with all sides to reach a final agreement." 

Existing situation for patents in Europe

The current European patent system, particularly in terms of translation requirements, is very expensive and complex. The EPO – an intergovernmental body which includes 37 countries (EU 27 + 10 other European countries) – examines applications for a patent and is responsible for granting a European Patent if the relevant conditions are met. But for the granted patent to be effective in a Member State, the inventor then has to request validation at national level. This implies translation and administrative costs. 

Because of the costs involved, most of the inventors only patent their invention in a very limited number of Member States. A European Patent validated for example in 13 countries costs as much as € 20 000, of which nearly € 14 000 arises from translations alone. This makes a European Patent more than 10 times more expensive than an American patent which costs about € 1850.

Negotiations on the EU Patent 

The Commission proposed a Regulation for a Community Patent in August 2000 (now referred to as the EU Patent under the Lisbon Treaty). In December 2009, Member States unanimously adopted conclusions on an enhanced patent system in Europe (see IP/09/1880). The package agreed covered the key elements to bring about a single EU Patent and establish a new patent court in the EU but excluded translation arrangements. On the new patent court, an opinion from the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of the draft Agreement with the EU Treaties is awaited later this year. Today's proposal completes the necessary package by setting out the translation arrangements for EU Patents.

Translation arrangements for EU Patents

Under today's proposal for a Council Regulation, processing costs for an EU Patent covering 27 Member States would be less than € 6200, of which only 10% would be due to translations.
The Commission's proposal builds on the existing language regime of the EPO. The Commission proposes that EU Patents will be examined and granted in one of the official languages of the EPO - English, French or German. The granted patent will be published in this language which will be the authentic (i.e. legally binding) text. The publication will include translations of the claims into the other two EPO official languages. The claims are the section of the patent defining the scope of protection of the invention.

No further translations into other languages will be required from the patent proprietor except in the case of a legal dispute concerning the EU patent. In this case, the patent proprietor may be required to provide further translations at his or her own expense. For example, the proprietor may have to supply a copy of the patent into the language of an alleged infringer, or into the language of the court proceedings when this is different from the language of the patent.

The Commission's proposal also sets out accompanying measures to be agreed in order to make the patent system more accessible to innovators. First, high quality machine translations of EU patents into all official languages of the EU should be made available. Inventors in Europe will therefore have better access to technical information on patents in their native language. In addition, in order to facilitate access to the EU patent for applicants from countries in the EU that have a language other than English, French or German among their official languages, inventors will have the possibility to file applications in their own language. The costs for the translation into the language of proceedings of the EPO (to be chosen from English, French or German by the applicant when they file the application) will be eligible for reimbursement. [emphasis added by LawPundit]


Member States reached a political agreement in December 2009 by adopting Council Conclusions and a general approach on a Regulation for an EU Patent (see IP/10/1880). This agreement covers the main features both of a new patent court in Europe and the future EU Patent, but excluding the translation arrangements. However, Member States agreed that the translations for the EU Patent would form part of a separate Regulation. The Commission has therefore presented this proposal concerning the translation arrangements for the EU Patent.

More information is available at: 

MEMO 291"

Sesta Judze ("The Sixth Mile", Sestā Jūdze) : The Best Popular Country Music Group from Latvia

Agris Gedrovics, my second cousin, is the founder and lead singer of the very popular Latvian country group Sestā Jūdze, which has received many country music awards.

My current favorite is their album Emigrants - which you can hear at (listen for free).

One can also hear some of the group's music for free at their MySpace pages here.

Sesta Judze means "The Sixth Mile" or simply "Sixth Mile". Sestā Jūdze is the correct orthographic spelling in Latvian - pronounced Sess-tah You-dzeh with the emphasis always on the first syllable of each word .

Their album Kalendārs (video ad here) is available for download at (payment required).

Downloadable songs (payment required) are found at

Sestā Jūdze consists of the band members Agris Gedrovics (Gedrovičs), Gatis Leitis, Modris Mikelsons (Miķelsons), Aldis Strazdins (Strazdiņš), Janis Misins (Misiņš) -- the Latvian orthography is in parentheses.

See also a sample YouTube video at Sestā Jūdze Smiltenē (Sesta Judze in Smiltene).

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