Want to patent it? Then translate it!

Everybody knows what a patent is, but not everybody may be aware of the long and specific procedure that has to be followed in order to get one.

Patents: what are they?

Firstly, let’s take a step back, if you’re not really sure what we are talking about: a patent is an official document that gives an inventor moral and property rights on their invention.

For it to be effective, a patent must be approved by a patent office, on a national or international level, for example European.

If you’re wondering when patent translation comes into play and why it is so important, the first answer is that every patent application usually has to be written or translated into the official language of the country or countries where it’s presented .

Patent document

Translating patents: a “faithful” work

It’s crucial for the translated text to correspond “faithfully” (even though this word is still at the origin of many debates among translation academics) to the original text, otherwise the document won’t be valid. For this purpose, at the end of the translation, we find a lettering confirming the adherence to the original text.

So, how can we maintain the authenticity of the patent document in our translation as well? Translators are well aware of how unintelligible the idea of faithfulness to the original is. In fact, a translator’s job, even if connected to the original text, is to create what appears to be a new text.

This is why there are many non-written guidelines to stick to when we’re approaching the translation of this type of text, allowing us to keep the final result as close as possible to the original text.

What matters the most is consistency and equivalence. The translated text must reproduce the terminology and structure of the source text as much as possible; even changing a “the” to “a” or vice versa can alter the meaning of something!

Furthermore, one and only word in the translation must correspond to each word in the original text. This means that if there are two or more synonyms in the original document, the same number of synonyms will be used in the translation and they will remain unchanged throughout the text. Let me give you an example.
If an English patent mentions the words upper and top, in the final language the translator will have to find two synonyms as well and won’t be able to use just one word, even if the meaning is exactly the same.

Why you should have your patent translated

Last, but not least, why is it so important to translate patents? If you wish to present a patent application in more than one country, translating it is a fundamental step. As we said at the beginning, your patent application usually has to be translated into the official language of each country it is presented in. So, for example, if you’re a foreign inventor wishing to protect your invention in Italy, you should ask a patent translator to translate your patent application into Italian.

Patent translation is therefore a real specialism, part of the technical field, with unique features that the translator must always keep in mind.

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If you need a patent translation or another type of technical translation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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