Patent translation is the key to internationalization.

A patent. Well already, just like that, the term inspires respect, and especially if the subject is the translation of patents.  In fact there is no lack of reasons because patents are complex technical documents that recognize the rights of the inventors, designers and creators to benefit exclusively from their inventions. What this means is that they guarantee that no other persons may benefit from selling their inventions. This is one way of protecting the industrial property or the intellectual property of the inventors. If a patent in itself already implies that the text we are going to read will be, not necessarily unwieldy, but certainly  involving complex syntax and very specialized terminology, now imagine that the text in such a patent is a translation. If the translator is not well versed in the subject or is not very skilled, the resulting gibberish may be impossible to understand.

Jurisdiction and intellectual property

One of the objectives of the inventors when they patent their innovations is to achieve the maximum internationalization of their patents. So that they can be protected in different countries, the original patent must be translated into the language of the jurisdiction in which the invention is going to be marketed. Such that  the translation is indispensable in order to obtain the certificate for the title of registration granted by the law in the relevant country.

But why is patent translation so important? In a global economy, intellectual property and industrial property are tools that ensure that companies remain competitive and in business. In order for these rights, which are essential in the development of companies, to be protected it is necessary to obtain the patent in the relevant jurisdiction. Such that, as well as the indispensable translation, we must also know the protocols, procedures and paperwork required to achieve the title of grant or registration that officially makes it the property of the applicant.

The translation of each  patent is a challenge in itself.

Direct, clear and concise language is exactly what patent translations require. In this type of translations, when we talk about a chemical product or a technological device it is essential that the translated word describes exactly what the original text states, so it is much more literal, without including cultural equivalents or approximations in the target language.

Taking into account the public the target patent is another indispensable task for a translator specializing in industrial property.  Such a translator must be not only a native speaker of the target language, but must also be an expert in the subject matter of the translation. She/he must know the technical vocabulary required to describe the invention with total reliability and it is essential that they are familiar with the formats required by the patent office in which the documents are going to be filed.

Technology is constantly evolving. The eagerness of many patent translators to be up to date in their areas of specialization makes some of them even become opinion leaders in such fields.

Consequences of an incorrect translation

An incorrect or low quality translation may restrict the scope or a patent and may have disastrous financial and legal consequences.  Unfortunately this is a fact, an inventor may achieve different levels of protection for a same patent depending on each country, not because they are granted under different patentability criteria, but because the translation of the patent claims may have included one or more errors, which may even make a patent ineligible for its most attractive potential market.

Ana Rojo, a well-known Associate Professor of Translation and Interpretation at the University of Murcia, states in her book “Step by Step: A Course in Contrastive Linguistics and Translation”, a case in which the European Patent Office granted a patent for cloning human cells, when the application only referred to animals.  The patent claims in German and French used specific terms (“tier” and “bête”, respectively), referring to animals, whereas the English translation included the term “animal”, which in English may also refer to humans.

Nevertheless, we must not forget that translation is an art, not a science.  It is more that likely that two experts working on a same document end up with translations with subtle differences.  One of the advantages of using a company with an internal service specialized in patent translation is the ease of communication with clients and the use of approved glossaries, thus ensuring consistent, reliable translations.  SHIP Global IP has an in-house multidisciplinary team of translators, proofreaders, linguists, lawyers and engineers.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

This treaty establishes a procedure for patent applications with validity in all the member countries. It is a service offered by the WIPO (World Industrial Property Organization). Via this procedure, the applicant achieves protection for a patent in up to 148 countries. The quality of the patent translation is very important. At SHIP we are aware that a PCT, once it has passed the national phase, can have its scope reduced or even be declared void by the different national offices if the translation is not correct.

European Patent Office

This application procedure is the European route for obtaining protection in the countries attached in the European Patent Convention. There are currently 38 member countries. Patents filed via this procedure must be filed in German, French or English. The advantage is that protection is achieved in all the countries of the Convention with a single application.

The translation of a patent is an essential phase in the management of intellectual property rights and here at SHIP we are very aware of that. This is why throughout our professional career we have developed an infrastructure based on the creation of a network of expert intellectual property agents and the development of a translation activity specialized in intellectual and industrial property, covering all industrial property services from A to Z, that is, throughout the entire life cycle of a patent.




Patents are one of the most important elements in intellectual property rights and their development was extended during the second half of the 19th century, coinciding with a phase of economic development in which know how was increasingly valued.

Normally any creations by a company or a natural person can be registered, from songs, sheet music, books, prototypes or industrial products and trademarks. In this article we shall speak of the usefulness of patents from a company's perspective.


What is a patent good for?

Basically, patenting an industrial prototype or product guarantees that you and your company will have exclusive use thereof during a certain period of time or that, if you share it with other companies, these will have to pay you royalties.

From the point of view of company protection, large corporations have the habit of patenting any inventions that they think will bring them profit in the short or medium term. They thus ensure that they will receive remuneration for their invention for a certain number of years.

It is extremely important to indicate that, if an invention is not patented, the competition will have the right to use it freely, without having to make any kind of payment. In any case, and since laws are offering more and more guarantees, the organization responsible for processing the application must give a definitive response within a certain time and maintain the order of seniority.

The main offset to the exclusiveness obtained with a patent is the obligation to exploit the patent or utility model, either on your own or through some other authorized person, such that the invention is put in the service of society that, once the period of protection is over, may use it without restrictions.

Similarly, if the patent is not exploited or the corresponding annual payments are not met, the protection may expire and thus leave the inventor or the company unprotected.



Patent term varies according to the country, although in Spain it is fixed at 20 years. However, the inventor has the obligation of exploiting it before four years from the time in which they filed the application because otherwise it may expire and become part of the public domain.

There are exceptions that shorten this period, 15 years for utility models, or that extend it, such as for pharmaceuticals and pesticides, up to 5 years by applying for a Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC).



There are several types of patents, according to the degree of territorial coverage offered. This way you could patent a product for a single country, for the European Union or worldwide.

Logically, and according to the territorial scope of the patent, the costs will be greater the more countries it covers. At SHIP we help you manage your patent throughout its entire life cycle, whether in the national or the international scope.



Nowadays, having patents for your company's inventions is critical for providing that competitive advantage that makes the difference on your competitors and that in the medium term will help improve the profits for your company.

It is not only about doing things right in terms of resource management, but also about offering something that the others don’t have, and patents allow exploiting a marketing bonanza for a certain time.




On 7 March, the Spanish Parliament had voted in favor of a non-binding motion (i.e. Non-Legislative Proposition -NLP) filed by the main party of the opposition (Socialist Party -PSOE), aimed at getting the Government to reconsider its former position and take the necessary steps for Spain to join the Unitary patent system. The NLP was approved thanks to the support of all parties within the Parliament with the exception of the party leading the Government, the Partido Popular.

In the last government control session, the PSOE's representative who had filed the NLP, Ms. Patricia Blanquer, asked Mr. de Guindos whether the Government had the intention to promote Spain joining the Unitary patent system or whether the Parliament's opinion would "fall on deaf ears". The Minister's response was rather clear: "Although Spain has always supported the setting-up of European Community patent rights, we cannot join this system because of our discrepancies with the linguistic regime and the doubts about legal certainty raised by the system". He also pointed out that this was the position held by the former Government under the socialist party and that it was shared by the business associations, especially by the Spanish SMEs.

Whilst Mr. de Guindos only roughly described the reasoning behind the Government's decision, the specific explanation of the circumstances in which the alleged linguistic discrimination and legal uncertainty would materialize was given by the representative of Partido Popular's parliamentary group in the session where the NLP was debated – the minutes of the session (in Spanish), are now available here. In particular, according to the party in Government, if Spain decided to join the Unitary patent system:

(a) Spanish companies would not be able to file European patents with unitary effect ("Unitary patents") in their own official language, Spanish.

(b) Since the Unitary patents would not need to be translated into Spanish in order to produce effects in Spain (unlike the case of "traditional" European patents), the Spanish companies would not benefit from the disclosures therein.

(c) The linguistic regime would also produce legal uncertainty for Spanish companies, which would have to respect the rights conferred by more than 95,000 new patents per year (not translated into Spanish). Spanish companies would, then, bear the costs of the relevant translations.

(d) Moreover, Spanish companies would be forced to plead in English, French or German in invalidity and non-infringement declaratory proceedings which would be heard by the Unitary Patent Court ("UPC") central division. Spanish companies sued for infringement before the local divisions would also have to litigate in a language other than Spanish chosen by the patentee.

Although a number of arguments in favor of joining the Unitary patent system were put on the table (such as a single registration process and an unique payment of fees, saving costs, a simultaneous and identical patent protection in all countries and a Unified Court to litigate), the possibility of entering the system in the "Italian way" (i.e. joining the UPC agreement but not the Enhanced cooperation on Unitary patent protection, as done by Italy before deciding to join the full system) was not discussed, neither were the (negative) consequences of not joining. The latter would include losing the opportunity of hosting a Spanish local division of the UPC, influencing in any way the development of the system and the participation of Spanish judges in the UPC system among other disadvantages.

To conclude, the Minister declared that, even in case of Spain not joining the system, "Spanish companies will be able to use the Unitary patent system once it comes into force in the same way as the companies from any other countries".

By Lexology 




Unitary Patent Further Delay

In the middle of June, the German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine" reported that the German Constitutional Court requested the President of the Federal Republic of Germany not to proceed with the ratification of the UPCA, which has already been approved by the German Parliament (Bundestag) and the German Federal Council (Bundesrat). The request appears to be a request for a stay of the ratification pending the consideration by the German Constitutional Court of a complaint that was filed by a private person against the European framework regulating the unified patent and the EU Patent Court as violating the German federal constitution.

The content of the complaint is not yet publicly available. However, based on reactions to this news on IP blogs, the consensus seems to be that the German Constitutional Court would not have made the request if the complaint were entirely without merit. In view thereof, ratification of the UPCA by Germany seems to not only have been delayed, but may even have been put into serious question.

Germany has always been a great supporter of the Unitary Patent and this drawback comes as a surprise.

For the establishment of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court, a total of 13 EU member states need to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA), among them France, Germany, and the UK. 12 EU member states have ratified the UPCA until now, including France. Therefore, if Germany and the UK now ratify the UPCA, the Unitary Patent will be a fact.

UK situation

Brexit of the UK made ratification of the UPCA very uncertain. After the Brexit-referendum, the UK government confirmed that it was proceeding with preparations to ratify the UPCA, although the UK has not ratified the UPCA yet and it seems that this ratification be one of the priorities of UK government.

What can we expect in the short time?

It is hard to predict what will happen in the next two years in the UK and Germany but what we say without any doubt that these events will further delay the establishment of the Unitary Patent.




On September 11-13, 2016 New York (USA) hosted the 44th IPO´s Annual Meeting. Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), is a trade association for owners of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.  IPO serves all intellectual property owners in all industries and all fields of technology. It´s Annual Meeting offers a mix of educational programs, committee meetings, networking opportunities and exhibits. Parallel sessions on patent and trademark/copyright topics are offered throughout the meeting, including an ethics presentation. Find your creativity and inspiration at the Monday dinner reception at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).