Patent translators are those who engage in the translation of a patent filing or documents related to a patent filing. As can be gleaned from this context, there is a high level of accuracy required in the end product of a patent translation job.
Recently (in the past few decades, in fact), the technical and country specific nature of patent filing has been causing an increase in the demand for competent patent translators. This is because a patent filed in one country (such as the USA) does not necessarily mean such a patent is also honored in other countries, such as Japan.
So in order for an inventor or a company to ensure that they will reap the utmost benefits from whatever innovation they produce, they naturally work hard to file the same patents in all the countries where their invention should matter. And there lies the rub—different countries have different languages, and documents involved in a patent filing are not exactly easy-going personal romantic letters—they contain technical information and description that leaves no room for error.
In this context, naturally, the very first place inventors file their patents is in their own country. Secondary to that, of course, is where the vital role of patent translators comes in: if inventors or research laboratories or technology companies choose to translate their patents to be filed in a particular country, that means such a country matters in the grand scheme of things.
That is why, firstly, the amount or number of patents filed in a country shows the economic power of that country. And secondly, that is also how the volume of workload of patent translators for a specific language indirectly indicates the economic significance of that target country.
In understanding the gravity of the responsibilities of patent translators, let us take an example. The technology company Canon, for instance, owns thousands of technology patents for a single inkjet printer model, down to the smallest gear or screw.
If you consider the fact that a typical company like Canon does not actually rest on its laurels and instead churn out one upgrade of a model in relatively quick succession (Inkjet 101 is followed by the improved version Inkjet 101.5 in less than a year), then you will understand that a single product model alone entails a huge number of patents.
What is more incredible is that every single one of those patent filings—no matter if such a patent simply describes a new kind of screw—entails an often lengthy document containing the technical specification and description of the innovation. And then Canon has to have each of such patent translated into several languages—then the amount or volume of work patent translators have can be astounding. And here we are just discussing a single model of a product category (inkjet printers)—Canon produces hundreds of products, from digital cameras, to flatbed scanners.
It is important also to note that patent filings do not stop or are not seasonal—in-house researchers of these big multinational technology corporations are more or less “compelled” to produce innovations at a fairly regular rate. So if the patent translators in a particular country are exceptionally busy, then more often than not, their country is among those that are considered technological global trendsetters.
Charlene Lacandazo has been writing for Rosetta Translation, a leading translation company in London, UK for several years.
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